Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fruglicity - Picky Eater Approved Dinner

Months ago, I was rummaging through our almost-bare-time-to-go-to-the-store cupboards, hoping to squeak out ONE MORE meal before grocery day.  I threw together 4 SIMPLE ingredients that have now become a favorite at our house.

While our children are getting older and more adventurous at mealtime, we still have some days when we must rely on recipes we KNOW are picky-eater approved.   When this meal is prepared, the kids eat it all, EVERY TIME.



Pasta  (about 2 cups)
(we buy Simply Nature Kids at Aldi, 
it contains a full-serving of veggies)
Butter (1/2 stick)
Parmesan Cheese (probably 1/2 cup)
Garlic Powder (to taste, for us 1/2t)

(I don't follow a recipe, I just eyeball everything sometimes adding milk if its too thick)



We don't buy macaroni and cheese anymore, this is simply more cost effective and I LOVE that its only 4 ingredients.

Frugal dinner +Simple Recipe = Happy Momma

Happy Dinner-Making!







Friday, November 22, 2013

Olivia's Birthday - Fruglicity Style

We LOVE to celebrate birthdays at our house.  

We plan, brainstorm and come up with Fruglicity ideas.

BUT, they are truly  SIMPLE  events.

This year we traveled to my mom's so Olivia could have a get together with her friends there.

On that street, filled with WONDERFUL families who also appreciate simplicity, if you say *no presents please, they will adhere to and fully respect your request. 

 THEY WILL, however, 
all show up with the cutest homemade cards ever. 

LOVE the no gifts and thoughts behind lovely homemade cards. 

Simply delightful.




I spent a totaly of $17 for her party.  

Party-favors? Pipecleaner rings Olivia carefully made for each of her guests: $1

Salty store-bought chex mix 

And as-requested by the birthday girl, homemade sweet chex mix. 

Cups, plates and table cloth $1 each




Activity?  Good, old-fashioned turkey's from hand-tracings.

And then playtime.

So fun to actually SIT AND ENJOY our company instead of running crazy, trying to pull off an over-the-top party.





And for our family celebration,  Olivia requested potato soup (a frugal, family, favorite) and "Fancy Hot Chocolate"  instead of a pricey cake.  LOVE HER.  

Recipe for "Olivia's Fancy Hot Chocolate":

Vanilla Almond Milk
Homemade Chocolate Syrup
Homemade Caramel Syrup
Whipped Cream
Cookie stix
Candy Canes

ALL FROM ALDI.


In the end, to me, it is about celebrating the life of this BLESSING FROM HEAVEN.  

Not breaking the bank, with stressful shin digs. 

Every family is different, no judging here, but my goal as a momma is to thoroughly enjoy my child on their special day, make them feel special and stay well with-in our budget.  

Done, Done and Done!


Monday, October 28, 2013

Fruglicity - Apple Orchard visit )

Every year we visit an area apple orchard. 

This year we skipped the extras (cider slushies, candy corn and suckers from the market, would have been an additional $15. at LEAST) and just picked 1 small bag of apples.  $10

Then we stopped at Aldi for a pre-made pie crust $1.89  (Should have made my own from scratch, but I had worked that morning as was POOPED!)

and Vanilla Ice Cream $2.69

and we headed home to bake our pie.  

We have TONS of apples left to make apple crisp and another pie (with the crust from scratch this time.)

Love our visits each year and love the treats we enjoy as the fruit of our labor (ha. pun intended)

Frugal, family fun. 







Saturday, October 26, 2013

My little girl-


Love this little girl.  

Proud of her for 2 specific reasons today:

1.  She just started an advanced gymnastics class, in which she was feeling very overwhelmed.  On the first day of class she excused herself to come see me.  We talked about perseverance and prayed for extra strength and guidance.  The rest of the class went GREAT!  She was back flipping and back handspringing with the BIGGEST grin.  Proud of her :)

2.  Her best friend moved to Africa this week.  She has been melancholy to say the least, but as we talk about ways we can bless Maggie's family through letters and care packages she is getting so excited and creative!  Just today she started a really cute project to send over.  Love the way she is making the best of her situation.  Love her little heart.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friends in Ethiopia

We said good-bye to some great friends this week as they embark on new journey in Addis Abba, Ethiopia.  They will be partnering with Embracing Home Ethiopia, working in a day care center where children are cared for while their mom's learn a trade in an effort to support themselves.

We are BEYOND excited for their new adventure, but will also miss them so much!



Olivia and Maggie have been friends since they were 2. 

We moved back to Indianapolis this past summer and they have spent as MUCH time as possible with each other.  

This picture of the two of them makes me cry, every. time.  Such special friends :)


Christie and I :)  Will so miss our chats over coffee. :(


Logan LOVES to play with Zek and Emery.  He calls them his little brothers.  CUTE!


ZEK!


Olivia and Hazel :)


Maggie surprised Olivia with BFF necklaces :)


T-shirts.  Olivia still hasn't taken hers off.  2 1/2 days later :)



Their time and ours.



Thankfully, with technology the world is a smaller place.  And in 2 years we will get to have play dates again.  Can't wait.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fruglicity - Family Luncheon


We recently had my mom and Aunt Nancy down for the weekend to celebrate Aunt Nancy's birthday.  

In keeping with my "Fruglicity" theme, I chose a VERY simple, yet yummy meal to prepare.

Chicken and Noodles
Mashed Potatoes (not pictured, but simply DIVINEEEE)
Salad 
Chocolate Cake


The Chicken and Noodles recipe came from Pinterest. 
 I will ALWAYS use this recipe for Chicken and Noodles from NOW ON!

I used 5 frozen chicken breasts
2 cans of cream of chicken soup
1 15 oz box of chicken broth
1 stick of butter
I chose to put it all in the crock pot and turn it on low at midnight and let it cook all night since lunch was to be served at noon the next day. But the directions were for 5 hours on high I think.
Take out the chicken and shred.
Add Reames frozen noodles (I didn't even use the whole bag)

DONE!

So simple and yummy!

Now for my FAMOUS mashed potato recipe (actually my mom's... I should give credit where credit is due...)

8 potatoes cooked and mashed
1 container of sour cream
1 brick of cream cheese
5 pats of butter
paprika

Blend all but butter and paprika, put in baking dish.  
Top with pats of butter and sprinkle paprika.  Bake for 30 min at 350.  

SOOOO good.

Salad prepared by my momma :)  thanks mom!

Cake from a box, decorated by Olivia (age 8) 
I think she did a MARVELOUS job.

and there you have it!

Fruglicity Family Luncheon 

(served 11 people)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fruglicity - Indians Game


So I FINALLY came up with the "word" that describes my style. 

FRUGLICITY = Frugal, Simplicity

I have tried for many months to decide how it is I would describe my style.  

To me this sums it up perfectly.

I love to find ways to be frugal

and 

I love, love, LOVE simplicity


Funny how my idea of a "perfect" date has changed over the years.

used to be (as in pre-kids):  Dinner at a VERY nice (read: pricey) restaurant and a movie.

Now,

Going out to share a dessert and have a cup of coffee 

Simple.

Fun.

Simple (again)


SOOOOO, this summer we did some very "fruglicity" fun things.

For instance, library night at the Indians Game

Kids received buy one, get one tickets for the summer reading program at the library.

(Don't even get me started on the fruglicity of the library.  TONS OF FRUGAL SIMPLE FUN THERE.)

It was also $1 hotdog and popcorn night.

So we piled into the car, drove around to find 
reasonable parking: $5 
Paid for 2 lawn tickets: $20
bought everyone a treat and drank water from the fountain: $5  (someone must have gotten 2 treats, ahem, Tommy.)

total of $30  

FUN summer evening enjoying time together and a baseball game.  

It was fruglicity.

  


Thursday, July 25, 2013

My 2 cents: about tea...



Ok.   

We all have our splurges

Something that we just LOVE to treat ourselves to.

Mine is tea.  

Unsweet tea to be exact.

No sugar please, just pure, caffeinated, natural-tea goodness.

And I love to get it when I am out and about.

When McDonald's has this ice-filled-happiness in a cup JUST waiting for me for only $1, how can I refuse?

Well, I couldn't until I added up my the cost of my treat out vs. the cost of making it at home.  

A box of tea bags from Aldi (can't remember the exact price) is roughly $2.89.

for 100 bags.

I use 2 per cup of iced tea.

So we are talking $0.06 per LARGE CUP, just like McDonald's.  

So lets annualize and  get the big-picture here...  

A tea a day at McD:   $365

A tea a day from home:  $21.90

Savings of $343.10

That is 13 date-nights out; having a glass of wine for him, coffee for me and splitting a gourmet dessert. (Honestly my idea of a PERFECT date)

That is 11 family dinners out at our favorite local pizza place

That is a fun visit to Ikea

That is a wonderful day spent in Chicago, complete with nice lunch and dinner out and a little spending money for everyone.


My point is, it ALL ADDS UP!  And if we (mostly my hubby) works SO HARD for our money, shouldn't we do our best to keep as much of it as we can?  

Anyway, just my 2 cents.

We all have a treat we just LOVE, I'm just rethinking mine and planning to choose the homemade version so we can enjoy the money saved another way.

Hugs and Happy Saving!







Greek Salad



My current lunch obsession:  GREEK SALAD!  

With all ingredients (except the tomato which is from our garden) purchased at Aldi.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I LOVE ALDI!  

They have really increased their selection lately, including more imported items as well as organic.

This salad is made with:

Romaine Hearts $1.99
Hard Salami:  $2.79
Feta Cheese:  $1.99
Kalamata Olives from Greece:  $2.79
Cucumber:  leftover
Tomato: garden

Total:  $9.56 for an estimated 6 salads?  Pretty good deal.

For us, eating out is a big budget buster, so creativity in our meal-planning is IMPERATIVE in keeping us at our kitchen table instead of at a restaurant's table.  (We save that for special treats instead of it being the norm, like our pre-kid days when we ate out like there was no tomorrow.  Live and learn.)

Happy creative-meal-making!




Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Time Favorite



If it is summer (or winter for that matter)

and we are not outside, climbing trees, playing with friends or enjoying a popsicle,

odds are, you can find us in the library.

LOVE that the kids are JUST as excited (maybe not quite, but pretty excited) to make our ever-so-frequent trips to the library. 

 We have found books on JUST about anything and enjoy the hunt for the pefect Summer Reading Program finds.  

Did I mention its like shopping for free???  :)

Love me a library.  

Anywhere.  

Anytime.

Hugs and happy reading!


Springhill Camp!



This was our first time attending Springhill Camp.  It was AMAZING!  A long-day for our homeschoolers, but each made special friends, did lots of fun activities and learned so much about themselves and our God.   We are already counting the days until next year!


Logan received an award for his gift of "Creativity"/  His friend Nathan did as well, turns out they were fast friends and had lots of fun the whole week.


Olivia really like Miss Leah, who presented her with an award for her "Joyfulness".  I couldn't agree more.  I love the joy she has!

Until next year - Hugs and happy camping!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday thoughts from a Thursday (Facebook status)

Thursday Thoughts:

1. Olivia while playing with my hair: "MOMMA! you have so many white hairs under here!" - Yes I do, thank you Olivia.

2 Logan: "I thought I only liked to read books about Legos! Turns out I like other books too" - {FINALLY! ha}

3. A freshly made bed at our house = a perfect wrestling mat for the kids. {sigh}

4. Olivia caught a butterfly the other day. As she was letting it go she was trying to reassure Logan that it was in fact the right thing to do, while he sobbed and sobbed. Real tears. Poor thing just wants a pet so bad! (his mean mom won't let him have one)

5. Sun tea is my favorite!


6. A tiny bit obsessed with the 1000 piece puzzle Aunt Lisa gave us  


7. My family is very efficient. We can dirty an insane amount of dishes in about 30 seconds flat. (you know I hate to brag...)

Hugs and happy Thursday!


Logan is 7!!!!

Love that he will stop to give momma a big hug even 

when he is busy at his day job, being a jedi.  

We love you Logan!



Monday, February 11, 2013

Chicken Goodness... {And a secret}





In my quest to cook from scratch, I have been trying to find a chicken nugget/strips recipe the whole family loves. 

In my MANY attempts I would hear things like 

"They are good mom, but I like Chick-Fil-A better"

or

"Yummy, but McDonalds are better"  {GASP!!!}

I NEVER want to hear that one again!  

So I have been working hard to create the perfect picky-eater-proof chicken strips.

I'm calling it "You-will-never-eat-McDonald's-chicken-again-so-better-learn-to-like-my-chicken"

Kidding
 (sort of)

We call it:  Ranch Chicken Strips

Dredge chicken in ranch dressing (seems to be the secret for this family)

Dip in Drake's fry mix (I really pat the mix on to create a good coating)

Fry in oil

Salt

That's it!

Note:  I find for best results I use a big enough skillet to cook all I am planning to make.  Seems that when I make multiple batches, the oil gets icky and the strips aren't as tasty.

Secret:  They are even better (in my opinion) when you hide a couple in the fridge and eat them cold when no one else is looking and the rest of the family thinks they are gone.  (hee hee)  

Hugs and Happy Cooking From Scratch!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Winter Blues...


Vitamin D a WONDERFUL winter-blues buster!

Think about it.

Mid-winter.  Unless you have spent a whole MONTH on a beach recently, you are probably lacking this amazing vitamin.

I notice A HUGE difference, ESPECIALLY in my overall mood, when I stop taking it.  (Like when we run out)

Vitamin D aids:

Mood elevation
Boost Immunity
Helps prevent lots of diseases
and lots, lots more

The best articles I have found are Dr. Mercola's, very informative and gives dosage recommendations.


Hugs and happy-beating-winter-blahs!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Christmas Card Tries


At certain points throughout the year we try to capture a good family picture to use for our Christmas cards. This year we just didn't seem to pull it together and Christmas came and went without a card.  Next year we will try harder.
  Our attempts are quite funny now that I look back, and I want these for our blog book :)









Love.  My.  Family.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What makes a meal?


This is a picture of one of my most favorite meals/snacks.

One I eat ALL THE TIME.


I could eat this for breakfast (like I did today), lunch, dinner or a snack  (Although I for lunch or dinner I would add more avocado and more cheese to make it more filling.)

Walnuts (or cashews), avocado, pear slices (or whatever fruit) and some Parmesan cheese (imported from Italy because we are Parmesan cheese snobs), 4 of my favorite foods

It doesn't look much like a traditional meal, but coupled with a nice glass of iced tea (or hot) this is a tasty treat for my taste buds.  

Filling (lots of wonderfully satiating natural fats), full of flavor,  healthy (CRAZY good vitamins) and no simple, refined carbs (which make me VERY moody - insert blood sugar swings)

Its fun to pair together different foods, thinking outside the meal-box.

Hugs :)




Thursday, January 31, 2013

Inspiration



I L.O.V.E. this picture.

This is one of my precious grandmothers (forefront), her brother and his wife.

Both of my grandma's have passed away, but they continue to inspire me.

I love the simplicity of this picture.  

Life was slower back then.  

Distractions weren't so plentiful. 

Hosting family and friends was a true event.

Love that grandma brought out her china to serve dessert and coffee.

I shared dessert with my grandparents all throughout my growing up years in this very kitchen.

I have alot of my her mixing bowls and baking dishes.  Could it be that I serve my family pie in that very same pie-plate?  I think so.

Simplicity simply inspires me.



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ninja and a Gentleman





If you ask Logan, he will say he is in training to become a Ninja. 

If you ask me, I will say he is in training to become a gentleman.

I love it when I see a boy (or man), show his mom love by treating her like a lady and making her feel special.  

So

When we enter a building (and Tommy isn't with us) Logan opens the door for me.  I will stand there and wait until he remembers that that is HIS job.

When we cross a street, he holds MY hand to keep ME safe from cars.  

I  hear Tommy say to Logan "Doesn't momma look pretty?"  and now when I come downstairs after getting ready I often hear him say "Momma, you look so pretty."

We have talked at length this winter about speaking only words that encourage others.  How it is ok to NOT say everything that comes into your mind.  Especially if it doesn't build the other person up.

SO

While we were looking through an old photo album, Logan commented:

"Momma, you were so pretty when you were little..."  

{I'm thinking, "How nice!  learning to compliment from his dad"}

then he added ".... and then you got glasses".


{sigh}  :)

Love my little Gentleman.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Haystacks


Haystacks are a SUPER popular meal at our house.  Everyone gets to assemble their own just how THEY like it.  




We layer:

Crushed tortilla chips
Taco meat (beef, black beans and corn with taco seasoning)
Cilantro-lime rice (Chipotle inspired)
Sour Cream
Pico de Gallo (or salsa)
Cheddar cheese
Avocado

Inexpensive, easy and yummy

:)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Freezing

I am always trying to improve my meal-planning.  I can CERTAINLY stand to improve in the "plan ahead" area.

So this week, I bought a little over 2 pounds of ground beef and decided to brown it all right when I got home, with 2 bell peppers, 2 onions and a few garlic cloves.  

So I turned this:


Into this:


Now we have a total of four freezer bags of the meat combo, about 2 cups in each bag.   I will add lots of chili beans for the chili mix and lots of black beans for the haystacks, thus stretching the meat and making it more about the healthy beans and less about the meat.  

Whats for dinner at our house this week:

Chili
Haystacks
Potato Soup
Frozen Pizza* 
*(ALWAYS on Wednesday which is gymnastics and karate night. Easy and fast, keeps us out of the drive-thru line.)
Egg Sandwiches
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Cheddar Ranch Chicken Strips (homemade, KIDS LOVE!)

Happy Dinner Planning!

Our Gymnast and Karate Kid



Olivia's favorite place in the whole world!



Logan training to be come a Ninja (Inspired by Lego Ninjago)

Friday, January 25, 2013

How I had lunch for $3.20 in Downtown Chicago

We have all heard that we shouldn't grocery shop when we are hungry.  I have done this, it is NOT good.  For the pocketbook OR the nutritional benefit of the shopper.

But I am starting to take this one step further.  My new eating out motto:

Don't eat (out) when you are hungry.

Crazy?  Probably.  Here are my reasons.

1.  Nutritional (or rather caloric) benefit
2.  Financial benefit

1.  Portion sizes in America are crazy!  But studies show if it is in front of you, you will most likely eat it.  I am speaking from experience.  

Scenario:  
We are all in the car.  No car-snacks planned ahead of time.  (bad momma), everyone is experiencing the low-blood-sugar crankies.  Who is with me?  it is NOT pretty.  So we pull into a fast food restaurant.  (or sit-down, but who wants to wait?)  We order everyone WAY more food than we need, we eat it ALL and end up feeling stuffed, tired and still a little cranky.  

Car-snacks or purse-snacks (for us, pistachios, walnuts, cashews) are a MUST to avoid low blood-sugar.

2.  IT IS SOOOOO easy to spend more than you planned when eating out.

The other day, I took the kids to meet Olivia's friend from gymnastics at Chick-Fil-A.  I had them eat lunch before we left.  They were confused, cut complied.

I knew from experience that they would be busy playing, and we would throw away some of the food we over-ordered.  I ate as well.  

We arrived, the line was CRAZY long, instead of hungry kids whining at me (insert low-blood-sugar-crankies. I might add, whining is my cryptonite, CAN NOT STAND IT) they went off to play and enjoy their friend.  And after all, isn't  that what it is all about?  I want it to be more about the company than the food.  We finally ordered our food. I ordered one meal to split for the 3 of us.  Total bill $7.60.  The kids came to eat, I split up our meal, laid it out nicely in front of each of us.  They ate, and talked.  I might add they ate slowly (who else shovels food in when they are starving?  Ahem, me.)  They got back up to play and guess what?  Food still uneaten.  We all had plenty to eat and still took some chicken home.  

Summary.

My goal is to make it more about the company than the food.  The food is WONDERFUL and very tasty, but should it be the focus of our fellowship?

So, we spent $7.60 on lunch for 3 people.  REALLY enjoyed our meal with no low-blood-sugar fits (PLEASE tell me other people experience these)  and the fellowship of our friends.  

Good for my caloric budget and DEFINETLY good for our financial budget.

Back to my $3.20 meal in Chicago

Snacked all morning on Walnuts.  
I know it was only Chipotle, but still, its Chicago where BREATHING the AIR seems to cost money.

Ordered 1 taco and a kids chips and water.  

PLENTY of food for me.  

(And I had room to enjoy some Garrett's popcorn on the train-ride home.  {happy sigh})

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Welcome To Our Home Wednesday



First of all, I LOVE this picture of the kids.  Pretty sure it will be up in one of our bathrooms for the rest of our lives.  

Point of these pictures:  Upstairs we have alot of slanted ceilings.  

In every upstairs room in fact.  Wonder if the original builders (1900) did this for added charm?  or necessity (not sure what that would be).   

Either way, I think it adds some coziness, dimension and charm.






Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Library Goodies


We visit the library ALL. THE. TIME.  Walking out with gobs of books for free is my kind of fun.  At select times throughout the year, our library sells books and magazines (outdated of course).  I recently purchased 10 cooking mags for $1.  Although the magazine itself is outdated, the recipes aren't!  LOTS of new ideas, for a FRACTION of what I would have paid for these at the store. 

Happy Saving Trying New Recipes!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bargain Hunting


Winter outfit for $23.60

Boots from Goodwill: $5
Boot socks made from hand-me-down sweater:  free
Capris from Goodwill:  $4
Shirt from Gap on Michigan Ave. :  $6.60
Coat (Sarah Jessica Parker "Bitten" Brand) from Goodwill $8
Scarf from Christmas gift:  free

I LOVE bargains and I find Goodwill a great place to find them.  That being said, location is everything.  On the north-side of Indy (Carmel-area) I think it is safe to say there is more donating than garage-sales.  Where we live currently there seems to be more garage-sales and perhaps less donating.  JUST my observation.  One day my mom and I took the kids to the nicer suburbs of Chicago and found some good deals.  Worth the drive?  I think so, I spent $70 that trip and clothed the kids for the fall/winter and lots of things for me :)

I am NOT a name-brand-only type of person, however, I have found that when shopping thrift stores the name-brand clothes are typically the clothes that are in almost-new condition.  

I realize that some people SHRIEK at the idea of shopping at Goodwill, but there are many other places to find gently-used clothing.  Buying used is a SERIOUSLY great way to help the environment, not to mention your pocketbook.  

Sidenote:  On my recent girls trip to Chicago I found 2 tops at Gap for a total of $22.  So you can even find bargains on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago :)  

Hugs and Happy Saving!


Paper Rolls


One of my FAVORITE craft items for the kids are paper rolls.  This was a wonderful Christmas gift from Ikea.  Roll of white paper and paints.  I find that when I unroll the paper on the dining room table and leave our markers (sometimes paints) the kids will walk by and pick up a marker and start drawing.  Sometimes its out all day and the entire paper is covered.  Helps beat winter boredom :)