Barn Studio of Dance

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Crock Pot Applesauce Chicken

I've been wanting to post about this recipe for a while now.  It's been on my menu plan for several weeks in a row and for one reason or another I never got around to preparing it. 

Even when I made this a couple of weeks ago, it almost didn't happen!   I thawed out a large pack of split chicken breast only to remember that frozen chicken works best with this recipe. 

The thawed chicken turned into oven-barbecued chicken using my recipe for homemade barbecue sauce (recipe for the sauce can be found on my other blog) and then the leftovers turned into Barbecue Chicken Salad.  I love when a mistake works out like that! 

Anyway, I was determined to make the Crock Pot Applesauce Chicken and decided that it would be a perfect meal for Saturday.  Joe was working and Grace and I were planning on spending some time outside playing. 

I was so glad that I re-scheduled the crock pot meal for that day.  Joe  usually bathes Grace right after dinner while I clean up the dinner dishes.  But he unexpectedly ended up having to work very late and wasn't home for dinner or bathtime. 

That entire scenario could have turned out very stressful if I had to prepare dinner after coming in from playing, then bathtime, then clean up.  But since I prepared the meal earlier in the day, I was able to relieve some of that meal time/bathtime stress. 

Clean up was easy too, since I decided (after finding out that we'd be dining alone) that I'd just heat up some leftover mac and cheese instead of making the mashed sweet potatoes I had planned for the meal. 

It really seemed like this meal wasn't meant to be.  But I'm glad I stuck with it and still made it anyway.  We had the leftovers on Monday and Grace really seemed to enjoy the sweet applesauce covered chicken! 

Okay, so for the recipe details....

I originally saw this recipe on "The Crock Pot Lady's" Blog and knew it would be a great meal for the fall or winter.  In fact, I have made this before during the winter that I was pregnant with Grace.  But knowing how much Grace likes to eat chicken and apples, I thought that this would be the perfect meal for her!

As usual, I made a change or two to the original recipe.  I followed it pretty closely to the one linked above.  But mostly, I just doubled the sauce since the split breasts I used were pretty big. 

Here's what I did: 


Crock Pot Applesauce Chicken

Ingredients: 
  • 6 frozen bone-in split chicken breast
  • 3 cups of applesauce
  • 1 1/2 yellow onions, finely diced
  • 2 Tbs.  apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Directions:
  •  Place frozen chicken in crockpot.
  • Mix remaining ingredients (except onions) in a bowl. 

  • Add onion to sauce, mix and pour over the chicken.
  • Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours or high for 3-4 hours. 

Notes: 
  • Although, I gave you the recipe with the sauce measurements doubled, I didn't intend to double the sauce.  But after I mixed it up and poured it over my chicken, it didn't look like it would be enough.  I was afraid the chicken would turn out too dry without enough liquid.  I'm glad I doubled it, since each piece of chicken was a little less than a pound. 
  • I added more cinnamon than the recipe states.  After mixing up the ingredients for the sauce I sprinkled and mixed in more cinnamon.  I did that for both batches of the sauce that I made. 
  • I want to share a crazy random thought I had while sprinkling in all of that cinnamon.  I felt like Laura Ingalls when she added all that red pepper to Nelly's cinnamon chicken that she served to Almanzo!  Can you tell I watched lots of Little House episodes on the Hallmark channel during my pregnancy with Grace?! 

I'll be linking this post to the following blogs: 



Monday, June 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday ~ June 28th

Before I get into discussing menu plans, I want to remind you all of my giveaway! 




Thanks to Caitlin at CSN Stores, I'm able to giveaway a $40 gift certificate to use at any of their 200+ websites!  You can't win it if you don't enter!  So, head over to this post for the details on how to enter




Okay, so back to our regularly scheduled menu plan! 

Last week was another failed week.  A lot of that failure was due to the hot, hot weather.  We really didn't have much of an appetite for big meals.  That was great for me since I really didn't want to cook much.  We pretty much ate lots of leftovers, sandwiches or grilled hot dogs and honestly, we were really okay with that.  No complaints from me or the hubs! 

One of the meals I put together was a Barbecue Chicken Salad that we wrapped up in tortillas.  I made the chicken salad for lunch when a friend came to visit and Joe and I ate the leftovers that night.



A few weeks ago, I posted about how I was struggling to stick with my menu plans and after reading some very nice comments from other menu planners, I was able to not let last week's failure bother me.

This week, I am planning a very easy menu since I have a feeling that Grace will want to spend a lot of time playing with her water table or splashing in her little plastic pool.

We had company for dinner last night and have lots of leftovers, so I will be incorporating those into our meals for this week. For nights that we aren't eating easy leftovers, we'll either grill or use the crock pot.  Keeping it as simple as possible. 

Here's what I'm planning for this week: 

  • salmon wraps, cucumber & tomato salad, corn on the cob
  • crock pot chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans
  • hamburgers, oven fries, corn on the cob, cucumber & tomato salad 
  • hot dogs, baked beans, cucumber & tomato salad
  • cranberry pork, sweet potatoes, asparagus
  • asparagus  & potato omelet
  • leftovers
I didn't assign days to the meals.  Just having some meal ideas seems to help me more.  If I assign meals to certain days, I start to get stressed if I mix it up.  It makes me feel as if my entire plan is falling apart.  It must be my OCD showing through! 

I'm also going to write down the menu ideas and stick it to the fridge like my friend Lisa does.  Sometimes I forget what I planned and can't manage to get online to check my latest Menu Plan Monday post.  Having it posted on the fridge will help me a lot....I  hope. 

Also, I know I have had cranberry pork on my menu plan several times in the past month or so and I never get around to making it.  It will be made and the recipe posted this week.  I have the pork tenderloin in the kitchen freezer and after I hit publish, I will take it out of the freezer and transfer it to the fridge to thaw. 

After that, I'll be outside sweating enjoying the summer weather with Grace.  I hope everyone has a great week! 

For more menu planning inspiration, visit Menu Plan Monday!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Freebies For Friends: Cracker Barrel Front Porch Friends

***I'm giving away a $40 CSN Stores gift certificate! 
Go to this post to find out how to enter!***


I told you all about Freebies for Friends few weeks ago (in this post), but I wanted to mention it again for anyone that may have missed that post. 

Freebies for Friends is a great facebook page that is all about saving money!  They post any freebies or deals that they find on that page, making it easy to find them all in one spot! 

You can even post deals or freebies that you find on their page!  Just go to their page and click on the "like" button and you'll get freebies and deals posted right to your wall!  How easy is that?! 

Being a person that reads a lot of blogs, I've seen a lot of these deals already.  But occasionally, I find a deal that I didn't previously read about on a blog, making it very worth joining Freebies For Friends.

Last night, I read about the Cracker Barrel Front Porch Friends program. 


Joining Front Porch Friends will get you:  sneak peeks at new menu items, store offerings, exclusive products, plus special rewards just for visiting!

It's really easy register, and when you do you'll earn a welcome reward of $5 off your next purchase of $20 or more! 

In addition to that, there are other ways to earn rewards: 

  • Seasonal Reward: Visit four times or spend $100 in a three-month season and receive your choice of one of three hand-picked rewards.

  • Legends Reward: Earn a second seasonal reward by visiting 10 times in a single month.

  • Earning and Redeeming Rewards: Simply give your Front Porch Friends card or your phone number to the cashier when you're visiting Cracker Barrel.
When you sign up on line, you can request that a Front Porch Friends card be mailed to you. 

I signed up last night and right away I received an email letting me know that in 3 days, my $5 off $20 reward will be ready for me to use at any Cracker Barrel location.  

I love Cracker Barrel  and cannot wait to go to breakfast with my husband so I can get me some Hash Brown Casserole! 

And don't forget to enter my giveaway for a $40 CSN Stores Gift Certificate! 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Barbecue Chicken Salad


 
Grace and I had a wonderful day on Wednesday, we had a play date scheduled at our house.  Grace loves other kids, but we don't have any within walking distance to our house.  Since we are a one-vehicle family, play dates are rare.  Especially, since we are an hour away from our friends in the city. 

Recently, thanks to FaceBook,  I reconnected with a high school friend that has an almost-3-year old daughter.  We've gotten together twice for play dates. 

Yesterday, they drove up from the city and Grace and I loved having the company! 

On Tuesday, I was trying to decide what to serve for lunch.  Lunch for the girls was an easy choice.  But I couldn't decide what I wanted to prepare for us moms! 

I remembered that I had some oven-barbecued chicken breast in the fridge, so I picked it from the bones and diced it up.  Then I sat down at the computer to search for a recipe.  I knew I didn't want the traditional mayonnaise-based chicken salad, since we just had Crunchy Tuna Salad the week before.

I went to allrecipes.com and searched for Barbecue Chicken Salad.  There were a few recipe options, but this is the one I chose to prepare.  I adapted this recipe bit, by using less celery and by using my homemade barbecue sauce as the base. I also  used a white onion istead of a red one.  Mmmm! 




We ate the chicken salad on large flour tortillas with lettuce. 

Barbecue Chicken Salad

Ingredients:
  • leftover BBQ chicken breast, diced (about 2)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1-2 cups of corn
  • 1/4 cup homemade barbecue sauce
  • 2 Tbs. mayonnaise
Method: 
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until serving. 

Notes:
  • I used 2 leftover bone-in split breasts leftover from a previous dinner. 
  • I used frozen corn that I thawed in the microwave.  I didn't measure the corn, just added it until I thought it looked good! 
  • Next time, I will add a dash or two of Tabasco Brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce before wrapping it up.  It's already added to the barbecue sauce, but the extra dash or two would spice it up nicely! 
  • Joe thought some thinly sliced avocado would be good added to the lettuce and chicken salad before wrapping up in the tortilla. 
  • I thought some black beans or diced cucumbers (seeded) or even some shredded cabbage would be tasty added to the salad. 
  • This would also be great served on top of a green salad,  using some extra sauce and mayo as a dressing. 

I always worry about making a new recipe for company without trying it first.  So, after mixing it  up on Tuesday, I decided to have some in a wrap for dinner that night.  Loved it!  Merry and I ate the wraps for lunch and after they left, I was too tired to prepare dinner, so Joe and I ate the leftover chicken salad for dinner later that night! 

I really loved how easy and tasty this salad turned out!  It's a great summer meal since it's a cold salad that can be made a day or two in advance.  For me, it's a great way to use up celery in the summer time, since I don't make as many soups or stews during the hot, summer months!  I also love that it can be made with leftover chicken, making it not only easy, but frugal as well! 

I'll be linking this post to the following blog carnivals: 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

CSN Stores Giveaway: $40 Gift Certificate

***This giveaway is now closed.   Thanks for entering.  The winner will be announced sometime on Thursday, July 15th (in a separate post). ***

Joe and I were talking at dinner the other night.  We were remembering when financial times were easier for us.  When we wouldn't think twice about buying a "gourmet" jar of pasta sauce for $8.  Heck, we'd buy 2 just to make sure we had enough for leftovers!  Oh!  The joys of living in a two-pay-check household! 

Now, with just one of us earning an income,  I make homemade sauce and get 4 or more meals for well under the price of that $8 gourmet jar!  There are other ways that we have cut back or tightened our belts.  Most of the time, I  enjoy the challenge of finding new ways to save money and be frugal, but at times there are needs for a splurge or a treat. 

One of our last BIG splurge purchases before my paychecks ran out, was a new bed.  For years, we just had our mattress on a standard bed frame.  You know, the kind that come with the mattress?  Well, when we moved from our apartment to our house, we decided it was time to get a decent piece of furniture.  And I'm so glad that we did!  It's so nice to relax in our big, beautiful bed after a long, busy day! 

Anyway, this discussion came up because we were trying to figure out what we NEED for the house.  There are plenty of things that we want for the house and most often these items go on the "wish list" and we try to get what we need the most from the list.


Of course there are the FUN items on the list. Things like a new computer or bigger TV or Central Air.  But then we have our more practical items like a refrigerator or a new stove or replacement windows for the house or even a second vehicle! 

So, for a little fun, I thought I'd ask my readers:  What's on your "wish list"? 

To add to the fun, Caitlin from CSN Stores offered me a chance to giveaway a $40 gift certificate to one of my readers!  The one-time-use gift certificate can be used on any of their 200 + websites

Cool,  huh?  I thought so! 

Now, let me just say:  I love CSN Stores! 

In March, I was given the opportunity to review this Le Creuset baking dish: 



And soon after that, received this Le Creuset Mortar and Pestle as a gift from my friend, Lisa.  It was ordered and shipped directly to me from CSN Stores.


The other day, I posted about a sale going on at BedroomFurniture.com, one of the many CSN Stores websites! 


Grace also  has some items that were purchased from CSN Stores for her birthday.  I'll be blogging about them soon!  Until then, let's talk about the giveaway details.......


Here's how you enter: 

  • First entry is mandatory:  Follow this blog with Google Friend Connect (see sidebar) and leave me a comment letting me know.  (Current followers, please leave a comment to be entered.)  
For extra entries:
  • Subscribe to this blog and leave me a comment letting me know. (Current subscribers, pleae leave a comment to be entered.) 
  • Visit CSN Stores and leave a comment to let me know "what's on your wish list" from their sites. 
  • Blog about this giveaway and leave me a comment with the link to your blog post. 
There you go!  Four chances to win a great prize from CSN Stores! 

Please note:

  • Each entry requires a separate comment. 
  • Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. 
  • Shipping charges may apply.  
  • In the case of Canadian residents, international fees may apply when ordering certain products.  
  • Giveaway ends on Wednesday, July 14th at 10:00pm, EST.  
  • Winner will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond to claim your prize! 
Good luck!

Giveaway News: CSN Stores $40 Gift Certificate ~ Mulberry Spot

I just entered to win a $40 CSN Stores gift certificate!  Hannah from Mulberry Spot is hosting the giveaway which was sponsored by CSN Stores.  It's easy to enter!  Just head on over to her giveaway post and leave a comment!   There are some ways to earn bonus entries as well! 


Hurry, giveaway ends on June 29th! 

Monday, June 21, 2010

BedroomFurniture.com ~ Magnussen Free Nightstand Event

I want to share a great deal that I just found in my Inbox today. 
BedroomFurniture.com is having a Magnussen Free Nightstand Event where you can receive a free nightstand with a purchase of a new Magnussen bed!  Cool deal, huh?!  Better yet, they offer free set up and delivery on some of their items!  Sweet! 

Joe and I already have a great bed that we purchased when we moved here 3  years ago.  But if we didn't, I'd have to take advantage of this great deal! 

I really like this one: 

I'd love to take a nap in this bed and dream I'm on a tropical resort with the ocean breeze blowing in the windows. 

 

Sale ends 6/30/2010.

Menu Plan Monday ~ week of June 21st

After weeks of failed menu plans, last week's plan went really well.  A few minor changes and adjustments were made in order to use up some fresh produce. 

I'm carrying over one meal from last week's plan that I didn't get around to making.  Cranberry Pork.  I will be making it this week.  As soon as I hit publish on the post, I'll be taking it out of the freezer and putting into the fridge to thaw! 

I found it was easier to not assign days to the meals.  So, I'll just be listing meals that we'll be eating this week. 

In no particular order: 
  • leftover applesauce chicken (will post recipe this week, tomorrow maybe)
  • chicken salad sandwiches
  • cranberry pork tenderloin
  • chicken and rice soup
  • enchiladas
I have some back up ideas if those 5 meals don't stretch for the entire week.  Those ideas involve using up older items from our pantry. 


I'll be linking this post to Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm an Organized Junkie

Cleaning with Vinegar: removing mold in the bathroom

Do you get mold on the walls and ceiling of your bathroom?  We do and it's gross. 

When we lived in our apartment, we didn't have a vent/fan in the bathroom.  We tried to keep the window open in the bathroom to help keep it aired out, but the mold still formed, especially in the winter when we didn't keep the window open as often.  I sprayed the ceiling with bleach every couple of weeks and that seemed to help. 

The vent/fan in the bathroom in our house is old.  Very old. It still works, but I'm guessing not as well as a new one would.  So, we get mold.  I was spraying with bleach for a while, but now that we have Grace, I don't want to be spraying bleach as often as I did in the apartment. 

In the March 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine there was an article about cleaning the bathroom.  I almost didn't read it.  I was thinking to myself that there's just no hope for our bathroom.  Instead of skipping the article  completely, I read the little snippet about cleaning the bathroom walls and ceiling.

The article suggests a two-part solution to getting rid of mold. 
  1. Wipe distilled white vinegar onto the mold with a sponge.  Wait 15 minutes and repeat.  Let the vinegar work overnight. 
  2.  The next day, use a sponge to apply hydrogen peroxide on the moldy areas to eliminate any stains form the mold and to prevent it from returning. 
Let me just say, I've heard of using vinegar for removing mold before.  I've tried using vinegar in a spray bottle and spraying it on the ceiling instead of bleach, it didn't seem to work. 

I decided to try this the night before we were expecting company about two months ago.  I wiped the spots with vinegar and saw the mold disappear right before my eyes!  I only had the time to do the first step, since company was arriving the next day and I didn't get the chance to follow-up with the peroxide.  Almost two months later, I still didn't get the chance to use the peroxide, but the mold is still gone! 

Wiping the mold seemed to do the trick.   Just like you would have to wipe away any dirt or grime on your floors or vanity tops.  Makes sense. 

I do see one little spot of mold starting to come back.  It's the spot above my shower.  I had a difficult time reaching it and I know I didn't do as good of a job scrubbing that spot as I did the other spots.  I'm sure if I scrubbed better and followed up with the peroxide that spot would not be coming back....at least not so soon!

I'll be linking this post to Homemaker Monday

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

While my little family is all still asleep on this beautiful Sunday morning, I wanted to wish everyone a very happy Father's Day!


This is my favorite picture of my little family. 
It was taken on the night we brought Grace home from the hospital. 
We were so worried that our spoiled puppy wouldn't like the baby.  We worried for nothing.  Remmy is wonderful with Grace.  They are buddies! 


Giveaway News: Homemade Popsicles ~ Summertime Fun!

When we were kids my mom would make us homemade popsicles using the Tupperware Popsicle molds. I remember sitting on the back step eating bright, red popsicles made with Cherry Kool-Aid. Mmmmm! I also remember being impatient while I waited for the Cherry Kool-Aid to freeze.

If you don't like to wait hours for your popsicles to freeze, then you need to read this:



Jen at Whole Food Kids, 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven, 365 Days of TV-Free Toddler Time, Mega-Family Blogs, and life in mexico {and other places} a picture a day, is giving away a Zoku 7-Minute Pop Maker!

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And just in case you don't know any awesome Popsicle recipes, she's throwing in THIS book, too!

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This entire package is worth over $60! To enter, go HERE.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Giveaway News: JustVanities.com

We live in a 1950's rancher that hasn't seen many upgrades since it was built.  The lack of upgrade is very noticeable in both the kitchen and the bathroom.  We've been in this house for 3 years and renovations are slow-going.  Mainly due to lack of funds.  So, when I saw the JustVanities.com  $40 gift card giveaway hosted by my friend Nicole, I jumped at the chance to enter! 

You can enter too!  Just head over to Colie's Kitchen to find out how to enter!  But hurry, this giveaway will end June 21, 2010 at 10:00 p.m. CST.

Coupon: One FREE Snikiddy Product

The other day, Nicole from Colie's Kitchen did a product review for Snikiddy All Natural Baked Fries.  Until I read her post, I've never heard of Snikiddy products. 

I'm a serious junk food junkie.  My scale will agree with that statement!  Because of the high number on my scale, I'm always on the look out of healthier "junk food" options.  So, when I read Nicole's review, I was interested in finding out more about these Baked Fries. 

With the house finally quiet this evening, I decided to catch up on browsing Facebook.  It's been a while since I checked out Freebies For Friends I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a link for a coupon for Snikiddy. 

The coupon is good for One FREE Snikiddy Product

Hurry and get your coupon, since it expires June 30th.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Food On Fridays ~ let's talk about food

Today is Food On Fridays carnival over at Ann Kroeker's blog.  I had so many food related blog posts this week, that I figured it would be easier to link them all here before linking to Food on Fridays....

I started off this week talking about my struggles with menu planning in the past weeks.  I was even considering skipping planning a menu this week since I was having such a difficult time making a plan and sticking with it. 

I decided to not give up and tried again.  So far, I'm doing pretty good.  There's going to be a slight change in the plan for tonight, though.  I had planned Applesauce Chicken, but forgot that starting with frozen chicken is best.  Since I already thawed the chicken, I'll make something else with that tonight.  And I'll make the Applesauce Chicken tomorrow night or possibly Sunday night. 

The extra chicken meal this week, means that something else will be dropped from the plan.  Looking at what I have left on my list, I'm guessing we'll skip the grilled cheese sandwiches.  Works out great since I don't have enough cheese in the lunch meat bin.  Grace and I  had grilled cheese the other day for lunch and Joe used up some cheese on his hamburgers.  Also, I've been giving Grace a slice with her lunch or dinner.  So we went through 1/2 lb. of cheese really fast this week!  And since we already had Crunchy Tuna Salad sandwiches for dinner last night, we don't really need another "sandwich dinner" this week.  I'll serve tonight's chicken with the leftover pasta salad and macaroni salad, just like I planned to do with the grilled cheese sandwiches.  So, that wasn't too much of a change. 

Earlier in the week, I shared pictures of Grace's Sweet Shoppe Birthday party.  We had a candy buffet set up for the kids (and adults) to help themselves to some sweet treats!  I tried to include some vintage penny candy to make it fun for the adults!  What's your favorite "penny candy"? 

In my post about a FREE redbox movie rental (valid 6/21 only), I talked about movie candy.  What movie is complete without a box of Raisinets?  Or Twizzlers?  Or Snowcaps?  Or.....? 

Okay, so I guess you are realizing that I am a junk food junkie!  That secret was bound to come out sooner or later.  :)  But I do like some healthy stuff too!  Especially, when coupons are involved!  Head over to my Cheerios post to find out where to sign up to get 4 coupons for $1 off Cheerios...and to enter to win a FREE box.  This is all part of their Begin with your Heart program. 

Whew!  Now I'm hungry!  Off to grab a yogurt and fix Grace some breakfast! 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Coupon: Save $10 When In Rome Blu-ray

I really like Kristen Bell.  I first saw her in a TV movie called Gracie's Choice and I really miss watching Veronica Mars.  I really loved that show.  But it seems that any shows that I like are always soon to be canceled....I must be a jinx (TV shows may be safe for a while since the baby hogs the TV with all her shows)!  I could do an entire blog post dedicated to short-lived TV shows that I loved!  I won't.  Well, at least I won't right now! 

Right now, I want to discuss the coupon that is available for When In Rome.  I've been seeing the preview for this ON Demand and can't wait to get the chance to watch it.  The $10 coupon,  is for the purchace of the When in Rome on Blu-ray.  We don't have a  Blue-ray player yet, so I won't be using this coupon, but I still wanted to share the deal with you all.  (If anyone sees a coupon out there for the DVD copy, please let me know.)

Edited to add:  If you want to take advantage of the $10 coupon, hurry!  It expires on 6/20/2010.

I'm participating in Frugal Friday this week!  Head over to Life As Mom for other money saving tips!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cheerios ~ Begin with your Heart ~ $4 in Coupons

Do you have high cholesterol?  Cheerios wants to help you tackle your cholesterol issues and is running a new program called Begin with your Heart. 

If you go to the Begin with your Heart website and sign up they will email you 4 coupons for $1 off Cheerios.  You will also be entered to win a FREE box of Cheerios and contacted by mail if you win. 

I signed up on Monday and received my first coupon (email) last night and just printed it out this morning.  I signed my husband up too, using his email address, so I'm sure there is a coupon waiting in his inbox, too. 

For a couple of weeks now, I've been eating a bowl of Cheerios every morning with a sliced banana and skim milk.  I have to admit though, my daily breakfast has more to do with convenience than being health conscious.  Grace loves bananas and loves Cheerios, so we always have them handy.  So, while I get her breakfast ready, I get my breakfast ready.  But I do like the idea of eating healthier, too. 

This morning, I not only had to share my Cheerios with Grace, but Remmy wanted some too!  Silly puppy!  I think I'll be using that coupon soon to get more Cheerios!   

I'll be linking this post to the following blog carnivals: 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Menu Plan Monday ~ June 14th

Last week was a total joke as far as following my menu plan.  Seriously.  We only followed it one day....Yep, the day we planned to go to Sonic.  How bad is that?! 

I almost decided to skip it entirely this week, since most weeks I barely follow my plan half way.  So, last week really had me discouraged about attempting to follow again. 

But I'm going to give it another try and see what happens. 

I picked up some fresh produce over the weekend.  A local farmer's stand and Giant provided me with some nice vegetables that I plan on serving this week.  When we got home from the store yesterday afternoon, Grace took a nap and I started prepping my veggies.  I find that if I find some time to prep all of them (or at least most of them) they'll be more likely to get used in recipes rather than turn to a soupy mess in my veggie bin. 

Here's a list of dinners I plan on making this week: 
I'll be posting my recipe for Tuna salad later this week.  The Cranberry Pork is a new recipe that I'll be trying.  And the Applesauce Chicken, I've made before but didn't blog it.  I'll post all of the recipes after I've made them and we've tried them.  Either here or on my other blog.  I'll come back and add the links, so if you see something you like, check back and find the link for the recipe!

I'm off to a good start today.  I got up early and started my spaghetti sauce in the crock pot.  I followed my recipe linked above,  excpet I added some extra veggies, used less ground meat, left out the sausage, and added some diced kielbasa.  The house smells wonderful! 

I plan on making my macaroni salad tonight after dinner.  I have a bit of a  head start since I prepped most of the veggies last night. 

Here's hoping that I follow this plan better than last week's! 

Happy Menu Planning! 

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday, hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Sweet Shoppe Birthday Party ~ Candy Buffet ~ Grace's First Birthday

My goodness, time is just flying by!   School isn't even out yet for the summer, yet somehow, it feels as if summer is almost over. 

Grace turned 13 months old earlier this month.  I just can't believe that just last month, we celebrated her first birthday. 



I miss my tiny baby girl!  The sweet baby that loved to sit in her swing and watch the stars on the mobile twinkle above her head!  But my goodness!  The busy toddler that she has become is soooo much fun! 

This past week, she started to become very chatty.  No real words yet, but she definitely saying something.  She was chatting away and then started laughing at herself.  So, whatever it was she was trying to say, she just thought was so funny! 



She's toddling all over the place now!  Thank goodness we have a small house, because I am tired from chasing her around this small place.  I can't imagine how worn out I'd be at the end of the day if I had a bigger house to chase her around! 


This picture makes me laugh!  To me, it just shows how busy and active she really is!  One second I have a great picture line up and the next, she's almost out of the frame!  And her little tongue, she's been blowing raspberries since she's been about one month old! 

Since I've been chasing her all over the house, I haven't gotten around to posting about some things that I've wanted to share with you all. 

Right now, I have a rare moment to myself, so I wanted to share this great party idea with you. 

Since before Grace was born, I was sort of planning her first birthday party in my head!  I knew I wanted a cupcake and polka dot theme, but as I was searching for ideas, I started seeing a lot of candy buffets and fell in love with the idea right away! 

All of the candy buffets that I saw online showed clear vases in assorted sizes holding the candy.  The vases were arranged on long buffet tables with white table cloths.  I didn't have a long table to spare, so I was trying to think of what I had around the house that I could turn into a Sweet Shoppe. 

I found this shelf in my basement.  (Only look at the shelf, not the junk all around it!)



My parents bought this shelf at a yard sale for $3 (it's a retail display for T. Marzetti's....I love their salad dressing!) and thought I could use it in my craft area.  For the past couple of  years, I stored my ribbons on it.  In assorted sized vases just like the candy buffets! 


I also primed and painted the sign.  Joe re-attached the sign for me using L-brackets since I needed it to sit slightly higher than it originally did to make room for the gumball machine. 


I dusted off the shelf, used some primer and paint that we had leftover from painting the basement walls.  I added some ribbon around the shelves too.



Here's how it turned out:



I found the gumball machine at a local thrift shop for under $5.  I bought some candy jars from Walmart and Target, but realized that new jars for all of the candy was going to get really expensive, so I decided to make-do with what I had around the house.  I used a recycled olive jar to hold the pixie stix, a recycled catering container for the Twizzlers,  a vintage peanut jar to hold the jelly beans,  my plastic Food Saver canisters  worked perfectly for a variety of different candies!  The hot pink and purple square containers are from the Dollar Tree.  Adding ribbons to the assortment of candy jars and recycled/repurposed items helped tie all the pieces together. 

Here are a couple pictures of the birthday girl just before our families arrived: 

Aren't those pinwheels the cutest?  I found those at the Dollar Tree!  Grace thought they were great!




The candy buffet was a hit!  The kids and adults all loved it!  I tried to incorporate some vintage candies to make it fun for the grown-ups.  Although there are many resources online for vintage candy, I was really limited since I was trying to keep the cost as low as possible. 

I was able to get the marshmallow ice cream cones from  BJs Wholesale, I found the wax bottles and Circus Peanuts at the Dollar Tree, the candy buttons I found at a local supermarket.  Some of the other candies we had were Swedish Fish, M&Ms, Caramel Cremes, Life Savers, Jolly Ranchers,  Ring Pops, etc. 

It was a lot of fun and I definitely see us doing this again in the future.  Maybe a Candy Land theme? 

What's great about the candy buffet is that it can go with any theme.  They can be used for birthday parties, graduation parties, even weddings!  If you use some of the online candy shops, you could color coordinate your candy to match your school colors or bridesmaid dresses! 

You could even use the candy buffet as your party/reception favors by providing small bags or small takeout boxes and allow your guests to fill a doggie bag! 

I had small bags pre-filled for the kids to take home (you can see them in the buckets).  I was worried that I wouldn't have enough candy to go around for snacking throughout the party and for the kids to take home.  So, I bought a couple of big bags of mixed candies to make up some favor bags.  But in the end, I realized that I would have had plenty and could have skipped the pre-made goodie bags and let the kids create their own. 

I'll know for the next time!  Like I said, we'll be doing this again in the future! 

I'll be linking this post to the following blog carnivals: 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Frugal Family Activity ~ movie night ~ Free redbox rental

My mom and I used to take my nieces to the movies for a girls' day.  Not too often, maybe once during the summer or over Thanksgiving vacation.  We would go to lunch, hit the Dollar Tree for snacks, then sit down at the theater to see a nice, family friendly movie. 

Once, we each picked out two boxes of movie candy and we passed around the boxed and sampled what all the others picked out!  My favorite movie candy is  Raisinets

When money got tight for all of us, we still wanted to have a girls' day with the kids.  Since they are usually pretty easy to please, we switched girls' day to a movie rental at my house.  We would still get the movie candy from the Dollar Tree and pop some microwave popcorn.  We'd close the curtains to make it darker and more like the movie theater.  I would also get out a big sleeping bag or blanket and open it up on the floor so we could all stretch out and relax and enjoy the movie!  


Here's a picture of one of my nieces and Remmy on our first at home movie day!

None of the girls seemed to mind that we didn't go to the theater to see a current movie and were happy to see a newly released movie on DVD.  That's where redbox comes in handy!  Perfect for a last minute or rainy day activity for the kids this summer!


Right now, redbox is having a free movie rental promotion.  All you have to do is LIKE redbox on Facebook and you will get a code for a free movie rental for June 21st.   

I'll be linking this post to the following blog carnivals:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Morton Hot Salt ~ Don't leave home without it!

This week, I've been working hard on my pantry project. I posted a sneak peek here.  It's taking a while, since my pantry is in the basement and with Grace toddling around these days, I can't really leave her alone upstairs while I work downstairs. So, I've been running up and down trying to get a bit done here and there. I'm about half finished.

Grace woke up super early this morning, so I am hoping to get her down for an early nap so I can get more accomplished with the pantry. I'd like to get it done this weekend so I can take some pictures and blog about it!

For now, I want to talk about food! Spicy food!

I really enjoy spicy food. Not over-the-top spicy foods. You know, the kinds that make you sweat! Or the kind that makes you want to drink an entire gallon of milk to kill the heat. To me, that's not enjoyable! Save that gallon of milk for a really rich, double chocolate cake! Mmmm!

I just like a little bit of "heat" to my foods, you know, normal heat!  But my "normal" is sometimes a little too spicy for some of my friends.  Then you have my nephews, they put hot sauce on everything!  I think they go through a large bottle a week! 

For a while, Joe was coming home with different hot sauces every time he went shopping.  Different brands that we just HAD to try! 


A few summers ago, Joe bought a bottle of Morton Hot Salt.  I laughed at him, told him he was taking his obsession with HOT a bit far!  He told me to try it on corn on the cob!  MMmmm!  I was hooked!  Since then, I always add this to my corn on the cob!  Love it!  I want some now, but our grocery store was sold out of corn yesterday.  Boooo! 





I keep joking that we need to keep a spare bottle of this in the truck for when we go to family cook outs!

I really like this on popcorn instead of plain salt and it's really good on Cornbread Casserole, baked potatoes and french fries!

I just noticed today, that they have some recipes on the Morton Salt website using Morton Hot Salt. I'll have to get a better look later and see what I'll add to next week's menu plan!

I'll be linking this post to Food on Fridays.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Storage Project Sneek Peak

The other day I mentioned that I am going to rearrange and reorganize some stuff in my basement.  Starting with moving the pantry. 

Currently, our pantry is in a big closet in the basement, across the room from our chest freezer.  I decided that it made better sense for the pantry to be closer to the freezer, keeping all food in the same area.  The closet is a built in, so there's no moving that.  So, I'll be moving the food into 2 pantry cabinets that I will put next to the freezer. 

In order to  move the cabinets, shelving and all that, I have to remove EVERYTHING.  All the food, all of my appliances (toaster oven, roaster, mixer, etc.), EVERYTHING. 

I started a bit on Monday night.  And got a bit further yesterday.  I removed about half of the stuff from the pantry and I'm running out of room to put it while I clear the rest of the stuff and start the moving of the cabinets. 


Here's a picture of the closet that currently holds our pantry stuff.  This is not how it normally looks, I had already started moving things onto a folding table and moving things to lower shelves to remove some of the shelves to store bigger items. 
Yesterday, I thought I'd be able to remove the shelves myself.  I only got so far and then realized that the previous owners installed the shelves and then put the frame and doors on the front of the closet.  So the shelves wouldn't fit to come out, until Joe cut them.  He removed them last night after dinner. 

Now, with some of the shelves removed, this will be the new home of my kitchen appliances that do not fit in my kitchen.  The crock pots, rice steamer, electric frying pan, etc. will all be stored in this closet. Along with some of the dishes that we don't use everyday. 
 I can't wait until Grace takes her nap today! 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Menu Plan Monday ~ Week of June 7th

Wow!  Last week was a mess!  We barely followed the menu plan.  I spent a lot of time outside with Grace and didn't get much kitchen time.  Joe picked up Chinese takeout on Tuesday and we had the leftovers another night.  We grilled hot dogs one night and hamburgers another night.  I made a loaf and a half of French Toast for dinner on Saturday night (Grace and I will finish that up for breakfast or lunches this week). 

This week, I'm starting a major project in the basement.  It involves my pantry.  Since there is no room for a pantry in my kitchen, we used a closet in the basement as a pantry.  I decided that I need to use that closet for other things, so I'll be moving my pantry into two free-standing pantry cabinets that I will position next to the chest freezer that is right at the bottom of the basement stairs. 

Moving the pantry items into the other cabinets will give me a chance to sort out expired items and see just what we really do need on our next stock-up shopping trip. 

I haven't decided if I am going to do a before and after photo of the pantry.  It's really gotten sloppy in the past few months and I already started moving things onto a folding table before they make it into the other cabinets.  

I'm hoping to be able to stick to my menu plan this week. 

  • Monday:  possible Sonic trip while running errands
  • Tuesday:  BBQ chicken with homemade BBQ sauce, grilled potatoes, corn on the cob. 
  • Wednesday:  Stuffed Shells, garlic bread, salad.
  • Thursday:  Chicken Croquettes, mashed potatoes, green beans
  • Friday:  Chicken, black bean, nachos
  • Saturday:  Cranberry Pork, sweet potatoes, fried apples 
  • Sunday:  Possible Seafood Night to celebrate our 7th Anniversary. 
I may be trying a new cranberry pork recipe this week.  I'll be sure to post the recipe and share pictures.  I'll also compare it to the Cranberry Pork recipe I posted a few months ago. 

We are thinking of doing a clam bake for our anniversary dinner.  Just the two of us (Grace will eat chicken).  We've never done a clam bake before...any suggestions? 

I'm linking this post to Menu Plan Monday  over at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Freebies for Friends ~ FaceBook Group

It's a beautiful day today and Grace and I are planning on spending most of the day outside.  I have her baby pool and water table filled as well as a huge bucket of water for me to soak my feet in!  I think I might even move her pack 'n' play out there for naptime.  She loves to be outside and loves to splash in the water! 

 

 
 
 
 
 

 
Since I missed posting  yesterday (we were outside yesterday, too) I wanted to do a quick post before going out. 

 
It's been a while since I posted any freebies or deals, so I wanted to share a few today. 

 
A friend of mine recently told me about Freebies for Friends on Facebook.  The page owner posts all of the different freebies and deals she finds all in one spot, making it super-easy to find. 

 
These are some of the deals that I found useful the other night: 

 
I love Jiffy Mix and I have one of their older recipe books.  I heard that they update them every so often, so I requested a newer copy.  You can too....Free Jiffy Mix Recipe Book.  (For those of you that make you own versions of Jiffy Mix, I bet the recipes can be adapted to fit your homemade mix!) 

 
Are you getting married? Do you know someone that was recently engaged?  I bet this Free issue of Bridal Guide would come in handy! 

 
I love the receive samples of shampoo, conditioner and body wash.  Especially now, when vacation season is here!  Request your Free Sample of Dove Daily Treatment Conditioner.

 
Okay, my posting time is over...I gotta get my little water bug outside to play.
 Enjoy the beautiful day!

I'll be linking this post to the following blogs: 
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