Friday, January 30, 2009


What a great month! It has been a pleasure to share a bit of myself with the world. The discovery of Tackle it Tuesday via a fabulous mom I have met online, has lead me to greater challenges. I have decided to dedicate the entire month of February to tackle something each and every day! Not only will it be 28 tackles, I have decided to add on 28 minutes of work out time to the schedule, keeping with the resolutions I made at the first of the year. I am not sure if I am nuts, enjoy a challenge or suffering from cabin fever. It could very well be a combination of all three, January is a time for reflection of the past year, and now its time to focus and get busy creating in the new year. Have a great weekend everyone, enjoy the football game, enjoy your families and enjoy your life. Really grab it and get the most out of it. The zest, the joy, the love......because the best things in life are not things!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Words of Wisdom

I find some great wisdom from some great folks. This is what a stumbled upon in my forever search for tips, tricks and design. Think about this, and let it absorb through your skull and skin.

"So, what is household management? It is the act of focusing not just on the mechanics of home organization and cleaning, but taking a bigger picture view of how these actions effect and influence all aspects of your family life." ~Taylor, Household Management 101

Really does it not get any simpler than that? I think it just may become one of those quotes that I print out or paint onto a board and hang it up somewhere. Its that good!!! It could just be my new mission statement describing what it is that I think is important as a Family Manager. I like effeciency, simplicity, beauty, comfort meanwhile being mindful of waste, repurposing and teaching life long habits.

How does it affect those in your household when its piled, crammed, cluttery etc? I know first hand what happened with my 18 month old daughter on a visit to a home that was packed to the gills, We were invited to play cards and no sooner than I sit down she became engulfed in "stuff" and started turning in circles and began to cry because she saw no obvious way out of this did not help that 2 huge friendly dogs came to investigate what was the matter. All out wailing!! (The other larger kids, would hop or stretch to step over stuff) I scooped her up, consoled her, set her back down. She would have none of that. I politely told my host I would be leaving and thanked them for the invite and I have never been back to that house since. Not because I dont like them, ITS JUST TOO MUCH! ITS OVERWHELMING!! I still see them and do like these folks they are really neat people, I just don't think they realize the impact their clutter has on them in a larger scope sense. It was then and there I realized why my OCD friend(who is so clean you could lick her toilet and it would be minty fresh) can not, will not step foot in that lady's house. I am not even close the neat nick she is and I was uncomfortable, not that I need anyone to pamper me, but dang where do I sit when all the chairs and sofa and dining table chairs have crap piled on the them....and they knew they would have a housefull! They that live there are just used to it, thats all. Its an everyday act to just move something over to sit down. Do you swing the other overly obsessed with cleaning and neatness that your guests are afraid to even come in, in fear of messing something up? I have actually experienced slipping off my shoes and before my toe was out of the second loafer, the host grabbed them and set them next to the wall lined up with the other guests shoes. The two examples happened in the same weekend. Guess what? I have not been back to that house either. I was wiggin.....the whole time I thought Holy Crap, nothing not a speck of anything was out of place. It was absolute perfection.....Or was it? I would be afraid to bring my kids to that house, heck lets be honest, I was afraid to be in that house!!! It felt so cold and clinical even though she had plush fluffy beautiful furnishings, all brand spanking new with out a scratch on anything! (psssst, she has kids too) What an experience for me, a lesson in balance. Balance is Key!!

We really do make an impact on our households daily lives. I strive to teach my kids balance with responsibility, accountability, cleanliness, orderliness, and general flow of life inside these walls and outside of them as well. For example: Brush your teeth and put the toothbrush away and just try not squirt or spit toothpaste on the mirror, aim for the sink! Even if they do, its not a freak out until there is blood involved. I am still learning each and every day! Balance Balance Balance!!!

stick that in your hat! (meant in the most loving humored way, really really)

Jewelry solutions

This is what I came up with to hang my necklaces and beaded slinky bracelets...picture frame with some foam board and a velvet scrap....I stuck some pins in it as "pegs".


This is what I found out and about the web....If I ever find a rusty old rake that needs a home, its coming home with me!! clever yes? Photobucket

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Studio Clean Up

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Whoooooa Doggy! This space really got out of control. It really wasn't that I didn't have time to clean it and keep it that way, I just chose not to. I had it!, walking past this every morning and then again on my way to bed, knowing what was lurking behind those doors. A disaster...and the rest of the space was cluttery. I cheated a bit and did this on Monday because I have an appointment on Tuesday. BEFORE PICTURES

Children's table
A view of the space in General, my table completely covered!

AFTER PHOTOS...........oooooooooooooh,aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!Photobucket
Much better!

I hung up the finished Elk painting, moved the orange desk over to the niche next to the armoire, hung up my Daughters artwork over there as well, It really opened the entry into the studio coming up from the stairs. The large wicker hamper holds unfinished gourds.

My table, it is a juxtaposition of 1/2 of an old door, vanity cabinet and my funky mosaic door that used to be my front door to the keeps me company. It serves as a visual divider and I still love it. A true expression of my self.

I have always loved niches, a space dedicated to a purpose. My daughter is artsy as well, this is her table and she spends a fair amount of time up here. Her supplies are in the purple dresser.
After the clean up and re arranging of items i did a brief space clearing ceremony via Karen Kingston, blessing the space. Lovely! I do believe a brass singing bowl would indeed finish the area, my birthday is coming up and that is what I will gift/bless myself with. Perfect!

This is my favorite space in the house, it really reflects who I am. I love to read, paint, listen to music and I love that my kids come and hang out with me.

What is your favorite place in your house?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu January 26

All dinners are served with a side vegetable and salad.

Sunday: T-bones, spuds
Monday:Beef Broccoli, rice
Tuesday: Tuna casserole
Wednesday: Tacos, spanish rice
Thursday: Potato and Sausage soup
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Chicken Curry

bento brainstorm....her milk she gets at school
pepperoni pitas, kiwi, graham cracker
shrimp, veggies, pretzels and cheese
cream cheese and ham sandwich, apples, blackberries
tuna salad, grapes, cheese cubes, munchies
cocktail wieners, yogurt, blueberries, sesame sticks

It is getting tricky with the fruit availability here in Montana, slim pickens!!


Friday, January 23, 2009

My Simple Minestrone


Ha! aka clean out the fridge soup. I made spaghetti earlier in the week and substituted shell macaroni in lieu of the traditional spaghetti noodles.....I also needed them for the Krab salad.

The leftover sauce was the base for the soup.
I added to it

1/2 onion chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
handful of shredded carrots chopped
bell pepper chopped
saute in pan with olive oil to tender
add the LO sauce and shells
leftover green beans and corn
beef base
spices, garlic, white pepper, paprika
That is it! taking out 2 tasks in one fell swoop.Cleaning out my fridge and making dinner. I think it took me maybe 15 minutes to get this together, you cannot get much simpler or frugal-er than that!
Have a great weekend gals!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Come, take a peek

I am an artist through and through, there are days I am really "out there" and days I wish I could really stay there as well. My inspiration comes and goes, and when it hits, everything else comes to somewhat of a screeching halt. I guess one could say I was on sabbatical for almost 20 years not even feeling one ioda of artsy pangs, and one day it came back and I kicked the kids out of the area intended for the studio. Its mine now, all mine....not really they love hanging out up there in the clouds with me.

I submitted this piece not in its original form, which was graphite on watercolor the Susan G. Komen foundation representative here in our state. I told her she could use if they chose to for greeting cards or what ever they could have full copy right to it in the Warhol state. I have not heard back from her maybe she was not as excited about it as I was. I thought it was colorful and edgy like so many women I meet that have battled breast cancer or love someone who has.

It was fun to play around in photobucket with all the fun tools they have....I really did think it would wow them, guess not LOL!! Its been 6 months and I still own the copyright and probably always will. Simple as that. I can feel my paint urge coming on, its kinda weird and I end up preparing for it now, rushing around getting as much done as possible to make it easier to work up there and maintain my household. How can I really tell its coming on, well I start wanting to stay up at night and I am thinking about art, that is how I know. Like my mind is not ready to rest. Its been a good 4 months since the last project in the fall. Here it is my gorgeous bull is a rather large painting almost 2 1/2 feet by 4 feet in oil and one of the most easy, in a sense it just flowed right out of me. Its still on my easel too.Photobucket

When I have left over oil paint I don't want going to waste, I challenge myself to a "shoot out". I give myself about an hour or two to complete a smaller painting start to finish with the left overs. This is my absolute favorite shoot out painting...oh yeah, did I mention I am self taught. This is how I grow in my craft.
Indeed a Silly Coyote, its midnight what the heck am I doing up?

Bento Bento Bento

Well this is fun and good for my brain, it makes me think and get creative. You should try it!

Avocado, yellow pepper, cheddar cubes,broccoli, cukes, carrots, grapes and 2 dips, 2 eggs with soysauce. My hubby and I shared, this thing holds alot!! Salad bar in a box!
What the kiddos took to Tracy's house, I did make 2 the same.

Birthday Bento for my girlfriend, she is doing WW's right now so I decided this was perfect! It is in a Valentine cookie box that is round, these are great for bento boxes and the lids are secure. Keep your eyes peeled you should be able to find these after V day and St. Patricks day as well.

Super Simple Man Flowers...hey a man can have flowers! Just a salad with tomato and cuke flowers, onion stems and eggs.
Kiddo Lunch comprised of Krab wheels, kiwi, cheddar cubes, and grapes with teddy grahams to keep her company.
Krab salad, meatball with sauce on the bottom, celery sticks, squeeze cheese, grapes (she did have some turkey pita bites in between so not to have Krab 2 days in a row, just no picture of it.
Now this was fun, under the cukes is some more olive and tomato flowers on top of hubbies Krab salad, like a little lunch surprise. Yellow peppers, cauliflower, meatballs, and ranch dip. My husband and daughter are loving the way their lunches are turning out! I am loving the whole process. They are eating much better as well with getting more fruits and veggies.

Is it simple? Yes I think so, it just takes some thinking on my part, planning ahead, I am making them in the evening when I am cooking dinner, so really its not that much more work. I already have the cutting board and knives out anyways. Plus I am more creative at that time, not so much at 6:30 in the morning. The other aspect I want to teach by example to my children is to take a pack lunch. This is valuable down the road. When they are in that habit, they will be less likely to succomb to the pitfall of convenience store or fast food junk later in life. It will seem *gasp* "normal" and just part of their day. At least that is what I am shooting for anyways.

chacha chacha cha cha.....bento bento bento....sing it with me now gals!
Adios Amigos

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Green Grass

Do you know what it takes to have green grass? The type of grass the is lush, thick and feels oh so good under your feet. It takes these 3 things water, fertilizer and regular mowing. I did not come up with this on my own, it is an age old practice and its pretty simple. A few weeks back I ran across an article that struck me on the head like a 2x4. Not because it was new found advice, but because it was well written. I meant to bookmark it and share here but I did not and now I cannot find it! In essence it is about looking over someones fence and wanting what they have, yet not willing to put in the work to get it. They want it instantaneously, right now!! Her words to that young woman "honey it don't work that way." Over on the right side of this blog is a list of subjects that I refer to as "Tending to your Gardens" and it ties into what this lady was saying. We all must tend our gardens, if not they become overrun, weedy, dry, and unable to grow what we desire them to grow. Are you with me on this?
If you want a well organized home then you are going to have to put in the effort, sure it can be emotionally draining and tears are involved to "let go" of things and move on, but I assure you its worth it. If you want a reasonably clean home, same thing.....effort and devoloping a routine. That may even entail combining that with your family/relationship garden in communicating your plan and expectations. In my own personal life I must say I have a gorgeous vegetable garden that can produce some serious amounts of food. Someone asked me if I was part Hutterite, I laughed, underneath I was rubbed a bit because of the underlying notion that one must have garden background to be a good vegetable producer.Wrong-O!! My parents did not garden, I learned this on my own, because it was of interest to me. I bought some garden books and started from there. When I was in my teens I would buy packs of flowers from my neighbors greenhouse to enjoy and that is indeed what sparked my interest. With the support of my husband, whose parents did not garden but they did grow wheat, barley and other various things dryland farmers produce, and buckets of sweat with the digging and sometimes reworking areas on occasion, I can say I am a master gardener, and I am still learning. I have heard rumor that one cannot be called a master gardener unless they take some course from a garden club. Total Rubbish! I dont agree with that at all, because one can be book smart and answer all the questions correctly but can they garden? Are they willing to apply the knowledge?
All aspects of our lives are like little mini gardens within our larger garden, our work places, our individual friendships, our lovers, our children,our finances, our homes, our garages, our hobbies, now expand to schools, communities, counties etc. If you want these areas of your life to flourish then you must be willing to put in the work. Now pause for a moment and think about the times you have busted tail and have done alot of work and still that part of the garden is failing.......time to weed! Are you willing to put so much effort into one area, meanwhile your other gardens are getting parched, devoid of your attention. This is where balance comes in. Sure you will experience times when one section indeed demands your time and attention, yet it is not weeds. Like children and husbands and wives, for example, they will take up a considerable amount of your time and attention, and they should!!! They need the correct balance of nutrients(food,discipline,love)in their lives to maintain and grow. I am not condoning martyr type behavior by any means, giving all and not taking care of oneself! Even gardeners know when to stop watering and get a drink for themselves. My galfriend TPG, sent me this last summer and I would like to share with ya'll...."There's a point in your life when you get tired of trying to fix everything and trying to make everyone happy. When you finally decide to quit, it's not giving up. It's realizing you don't need certain people and the bullshit they bring to your life." Very fitting in certain scenarios. We were both having some issues in our lives and having a hard time letting go. This was perfect, no one wants to be a quitter, but there are times when throwing in the towel and walking away is the healthiest thing to do.

One must not be envious of the grass on the other side of the fence. You don't know what it took to get there, are you willing to put in that effort? I will leave you with a fabulous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:"The force of character is cumulative. Character is born out of a dedication that eventually becomes habit".

Its Tuesday!!Tend to your gardens. Mine happens to be the basement today, a few redheaded raccoons have been down there messing around, and I do have areas that need some sprucing and cleaning.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday January 19th

Breakfasts alternate from fruit and oatmeal with plain yogurt, and eggs with veggies, my husband felt it was needed to add 1 more for variety,aaaah fruit and protein shakes with an english muffin. LOL. I am not very creative in this department as my main concern is getting enough fiber and protein to hold those blood sugars stable.

All Dinners served with a vegetable side and green salad.

Sunday: Elk Steak and potato bites
Monday: Mexican Fiesta
Tuesday: Almond Chicken and lowfat egg rolls
Wednesday: Spaghetti and meatballs
Thursday: Polish Dogs and kraut
Friday: Minestrone Soup
Saturday: Leftovers

Lunches: My husband takes leftovers from the night before and I must get creative for my daughter as she does not have the convenience of a reheating. So now I make a plan for hers as well, planning those bentos/laptop lunches. She does get milk at school.

M: Krab and cream cheese pinwheels, kiwi, grapes, cheddar cubes, teddy grahams
T: Ham & cheese pita bites, salad with croutons, orange slices,
W: Almond chicken with rice, 1/2 an egg roll ( this goes in her hot thermos) side of soy sauce and sticky rice shapes.
Th:Krab salad, kiwi, and breadstick
F: Spaghetti and meatballs in hot thermos, breadstick, and veggies with a side of ranch.

Have a fabulous day ladies,

Sunday, January 18, 2009

David and Goliath

This is what I would open up when I went back home to visit my dad.Photobucket

Now that is just a tidbit. I finally started asking him why this was happening? He said he did not have the time, so he just dumps it in that room. I said "Dad its time, and I am here to support you" So I took a big breath and thought where do I start? well toilet paper and paper towels dont belong in here. so lets put them in the hall cabinet. Open hall cabinet and its stuffed to the gills. Re plan, do hall cabinet first then proceed to the bedroom. Here is halfway through the cabinet, its 3 feet deep and about 4 ish feet tall. It can hold alot, and looked similar to the room I just opened. Why does this happen? I thought to take the picture 1/2 way through the declutter, but you get the idea of the volume it can hold. Photobucket

So I grabbed boxes and labeled them with a sheet of 8x10 paper, hair clippers, boot supplies, everyday toiletries, first aid, medications, vet supplies non freezable, irons. I lined those up on the table and brought him a box at a time to sort. I said "this is a fast process, no dilly dallying around just tackle it. There were boxes with the darndest things such as financials, and stuff from 20+ years ago, now that is where he started balking me. There was part of the problem. I said "DAD, if you have not used, needed or touched it in 20 years LET IT GO! He hesitated then finally I saw him throw the whole shoe box of what not in the trash bag. My heart was bursting with pride, HE DID IT, and that was HUGE. From then on out it was getting easier, not only was the sheer volume of it all getting overwhelming, who wants to comb through crap for hours. toss, toss, toss. This is what we ended up with.Photobucket

What we got rid of 2 garbage bags of junk like bottles of old lotion and conditioner that was rancid, empty pill bottles, packaging etc. 2 banana boxes of linens, I used what I had for containers as we lived 40 miles from the nearest Walmart. Most used items were the easiest to get, then the second shelf held those vet supply non freezables, boot supplies,the paper goods, hair clippers, irons (yes he has 7 irons, no he didnt purge them he is not there yet, but he will see when he doesn't pull that box for a year, then its time to go). Baby steps here, I think I might be dealing with a hoarder and an ornery one at that when it comes to his stuff, so its okay to allow the process to work. So the farther the stuff is up the less it is used.

I then proceeded to that bedroom and I am a bit exhaused thinking about all the work I did in there. To say the least my dad has more clothing in his second closet than my entire family put together. I kid you not! I will be going back in the spring and will remember to get a picture to add to this post.It is still organized. I forgot to do it when we accomplished the enormous task getting caught up in all the excitement. From that room I think we shed 6 bags of trash, 2bags of clothes, and believe it or not 6 empty cardboard boxes. just empty boxes with a few things in them piled up. I took the dresser/bookcase home for my daughter (thats what started the whole thing in the first place, we couldnt get to it) and the matching twin bed. What? you dont see it in the picture? LOL. I put in 2 dressers and an old shelf unit and organized accordingly.

Why am I doing this for my dad, well I want him to live well, and quite frankly was getting discouraged when I would go home, to the point I did not want to go home anymore. This was only the tip of the ice berg, his direct living space. The outbuildings I am not ready to touch with a 10 foot pole. I was crawling out of my skin trying to find a place to set my bags down with out losing anything in all the crap. His house is small but it has great storage and decent floor plan. He does not need a bigger house, just use the precious real estate within those walls to the best of its ability. It was all too much and I can see the path my dad was heading down. In time through the process I think he is seeing it as well. I moved on to the pantry that weekend and the enclosed porch later that fall. Enormous tasks and even though I love to do it, I can only do so much in a weekend. Physically and mentally.

My question to my readers is this. Are there hoarders in your family and how does that affect your relationship with them?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More Lunch Findings with Pictures

"Catherine what is happening to me, its like its taking over me simple mind?"

Oh I scored big time at the dollar store today.
Hello Kitty seems a bit popular in bento world. I found 4 of these.Photobucket

this is what I did with it, and boy those silicone baking cups make this sooo easy. She gets her milk at school, so I will put it in a cloth bag with a freezer pack and napkin and she is good to go.

Hubby lunch today.....I really like these containers, they are Tupperware and they remind me of Jadeite and they hold 2 cups each. sweet and a good size for him.

and hubby lunch for tomorrow in a 6 cup Lock n Lock box ( these things are sweet, good size for a meal and additional snacks) and what the heck I thought I would surprise him and make veggie sushi, okay its a bit heavy on the rice and light on the veggie. its really not as hard as one may think. I do like the sticky rice and the flavor but I not so fond of the Nori.Photobucket

and this is what I did with the leftovers of this evenings meal. Mongolian Beef and the remaining sticky rice. Get it? the cows with the Mongolian Beef.....bwahahahaaPhotobucket

So for now that's what I got. I will be creating the bento bags tomorrow and continue posting at least once a week. Keep scrolling down for an additional post of lunches and my fabulous purple Mom bento box!!!


Laptop me....Its time for a lunch throw down!!

I was intro'd to these a few months back and said "eh whatever, neat but I am not sure I could pull that off, it would take some effort" and have been fumbling along with my lunch preparation with less enthusiam as the year wore along. 6 year old told me she would rather have "school lunch". WHAT? truth is she has every right to want school lunch when the lunch I have provided consisted no more than a sandwich, a pudding and some crunchy snack type food, which equals boring. Time to step up to the plate in the area of personal responsibility and take some pride in the pack lunches I prepare for her and her dad, add on my son by August, That is 50-60 lunches per month. It would pay to pay attention to the resources available via the internet.

What I like about the LL box is this....if you notice when the top of the case closes it becomes the top of the containers, so carrots and grapes are not going to be just flung all over. It does come with a sealing lid for one of the larger containers to detour seepage of lets say a macaroni salad of sorts. A smaller container is included for dressings etc.

Another item I cruised across, and stopped dead in my tracks was the Bento box. A bit hard to explain but basically its of Japanese origin and the original bentos were laquered wood with compartments and a lid. There are lots of bento resources via the web just google for them and allow the journey to begin. I happen to find a bento box for 2 dollars new in package and a few other items that can be used as bento at the local thrift store. Review...the sterilite container to the far right: My daughter did not like it that well, I think she got caught up in visiting with her friends and did not snap the top on properly and the bits of leftover turkey salad was everywhere in her lunch bag. Not the first time.That is just it, I hope to have better luck with the Clickety Clik in the bottom of the picture. The Tovolo molds work awesome, and for 2.50 cents I think they were worth it.


The purple one is my favorite however it does not lock and needs a rubber band as original bentos do, it was a scrunchie box and is now my lunch box. I asked my husband if he would like to use it, he says "why not I am already getting flak" The pink one is what I would call a true bento box. I could sew up a bag in which the container would fit, throw in a cold pack and she is good to go. Those funny shaped things are ice cream sandwich molds, which you will not find me making anytime soon. Maybe for a birthday party, but not every day. You can put in a fresh hardboiled egg shelled and rubberband it throw it in some cold water for a bit and voila, here is looking at you piggy.

I also have 2 lock n lock boxes that work very well along with various sqaure containers to fit within said boxes. Those are perfect sized for my big beefy man of a husband. There are lots of neat items on the market and always have been, but its the ladies and gentleman that have shown me Lunch can be creative, it just takes a new way to look at it. Its time to take back lunch and look at it as a blessing and not a pain in the you know what. I doubt you will see me use Nori punches and the like, it seems alot of messing around. I am going to strive for creative yet simple lunches. An occasional molded pig hard boiled egg and vegtable flowers yes, give em some flair but not take up hours of my time. Its like "the art of lunch". I did make this salad for my hubby and boy did he take a razzing at of the other guys said "is she bored or something?", "wow, my wife never makes me lunch, I have to make my own"

"Happy Salad"..............and before the feminist banners go up, I make his lunch because its my job to keep headquarters running smoothly and keeping the money maker in the field. if ya get my drift! If I were working outside the home then yes lunch duty would be both of our jobs. I told him the next time they give you crap just tell em your on the sugar diet and when they say huh? just say "it's sweeet". and let em think it over.

I still need some silicone baking cups, mini bottles , sew a few bento bags and the larger cold packs, I have the small ones but I think the bigger ones the size of a post card stay colder longer.

Saddle up ladies, its time to round up lunch making gear, frippery and ingenuity. they post every day and its great inspiration.
I look to add them on to my favorite blogs, when I get around to listing those. (looks like you will have to google them)

and of course the link by clicking the title.

Its time for a lunch "throw down"
have a great day ladies.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Nutty Cabbage Salad

1 heaping teaspoon of almond butter
2 T. of rice vinegar
1 Tbs of tamari
1 Tbs of soysauce
5c. of shredded cabbage
1/2c. of chopped almonds
2 scallions finely sliced
1/2 fresh cilantro (optional)

I dont have almond butter or rice vinegar, I have substituted peanut butter and apple cider vinegar. It works, I would also use half the amount of cilantro, its a tad overpowering. This recipe was emailed me via Laptop Lunches. and if you are not familiar with them go check em out. Groovy! Is like organized lunch.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Menu plan Monday January 12

Rotating Breakfasts
oatmeal, fruit, yogurt with protein powder or oatmeal with a protein fruit smoothie
Veggies with scrambled eggs, carb balance tortillas

Snacks: Almonds, celery sticks, apples, mandarin oranges, hard boiled eggs, cheese, bananas
Cheats and Treats: Peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, apple crumble, ice cream

All dinners served with a vegetable and salad
Monday: Turkey, Feta and grapes on Greens with croutons, tomato basil soup
Tuesday: Pepper Steak, baked potatoe
Wednesday: Chicken Marsala, baked zuchini sticks
Thursday: Empanadas
Friday: Turkey Meatballs with Marinara sauce
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Baked Lemon Pepper Chicken

All lunches are carry over from the night before.
I set myself up for success by chopping all my celery sticks, cukes, mushrooms, salad, green onions, cabbage and the like for the week on Saturday. No excuses for those pitfalls, and boy does it make it a snap to fix dinner and those breakfasts. Mid week I fix another big fresh lettuce salad as we run out quite quickly but I dont want "tired lettuce" at weeks end. The one pre made item I do buy is jullienned carrots for the salad.


Now that's good eats cowgirls

Friday, January 9, 2009

Peanut Butter Cookies Big Batch Mix

2c. shortening
2c peanut butter
2c. sugar
2 c. brown sugar
5 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

I mix up and store in an airtight container. Mix 4 cups of mix with 2 eggs and 1 tsp of vanilla. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. I also throw in chocolate chips, m&ms or party peanuts. You Know, to make it soooooooo exciting.
This makes approximately 3 batches.

I love to make Batch mixes...after dinner whip out the mix and extras, and in no time flat you got fresh cookies without all the mess, you will look like a baking goddess.

Have a great weekend!

Cloth wipes

What did you say?

I said we use cloth wipes. You know 2 pieces of flannel turned and top stitched in a 7x7 wipe oneself after using the toilet. tossed in a lidded receptacle to be washed and reused.

How did you come up with this idea?

Reluctantly I assure you....
One day my youngest daughter was having a terrible time in the bathroom and ended up putting what seemed like 1/2 roll of toilet paper down the lew in attempts to get herself clean, consequently plugging it up...BIGTIME! It was not a good day. we have a septic system as well.
So I remembered the gals on my mom board talking about "cloth wipes" and voila! I was beggining to attempt wrapping my head around this idea, as before I just could not fathom. I promptly found the one flannel sheet I could find, cut and sewed it up into wipes and there, that is the story. I used them and to my surprise I felt "cleaner" ...kinda like WOW, that was n.i.c.e. and I feel ah hem really clean.

Does your bathroom stink?

No, not in the slightest. it doesn't, and even though the lidded receptacle has a label on it that says "cloth wipes only"(tucked neatly between the tub and toilet) I still find bits of kleenex and trash in it come wash day. Which is once a week and they get thrown in with whites, a lil bleach and very hot water for sanitary reasons. They wash up all nice and clean. Really Really!!

Do you still buy toilet paper?

Yes we do

Before ya'll get to grossed out, think about all the cleaning you do around your toilets when there is a male species living in your home. Trust me, tossing in some soiled cloth into a washing machine is a bit more simpler than getting on your hands and knees to scrub a toilet.
It was simple for me, find a solution for my daughter to clean herself properly or fight with a plugged up toilet with hip waders on and sewer snake, trudging all around in lord knows what, make a mess and have to wash 8-10 bath towels anyways. It was an easy choice.


and there they are in all their inconspicous glory...toilet paper and toilet cloth co-existing harmoniously on top of the tank, and they lived happily ever after. The End

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Recycling Goddess!!

click the title will take you to a lady that really is one of the most creative I have ever ran across via the web. How I found her I have no idea, but I did read an article about her a few years back that detailed the fact she has saved TONS, I believe it was well over the tens of thousands of pounds of raw material from the garbage heap. 100,000 pounds sticks in my head for some reason. Her stuff is amazing, and all though I have not bought one of her Sprout blankets or pot holder rugs as of yet (my budget does not allow it, but they are on my wish list, believe me) did inspire me to create a few of my own wool sweater blanket conversions. They were a far cry from her artistic creations. functional but not pretty.... it was fun to try something new with my sewing machine.

My hat is off to you Crispina Ffrench you are an amazingly artistic woman.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Big Bertha Moved her bowels....

Bwahahahahahaa!! This is what is behind those doors.


AAAACK!! full to the max and so not functional with stuff falling out

The after

I have developed an obsession with trays since my trip to South Africa.... like the booze tray lower left. behind it is a basket with canning jars. On the right is more stacking containers to hold bulk buy and extra stock. Left top well its for stuff like thermos's, lunch coolers etc.


Orphan kitchen items left by guests during the holidays, packaging, lids, plastic containers. These need to go buh bye!

Oh Big Bertha looks good.

Here lemme show you her drawers.....Photobucket


Batteries and Baking Frippery


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Big Bertha and The Elephant

This is Big Bertha, she is my most favorite antique and I use her to measure up all other antiques that come onto my property.


Not only is Bertha beautiful she is functional! That lil niche is the future home of a pantry, so in the meantime Bertha graces that place in our kitchen, and is doing a fine job of pantry-ness. She was gifted to me by my dad, well actually I called dibs on her after my biological mom passed away. It was one of the last big things I remember her taking from shoddy to shiny. She really did have a knack for sprucing things up and making them shine. I think he was ready to let it go as well as her, moving on from what could have been I s'pose, and it really took up alot of space in his living room.

This is her sidekick Mr. Elephant.


I am a dumpster diving diva, there is nothing I wont stop at when it comes to this "sport", a dead deer carcass and rotting food maybe. Even then I will stop and consider how to by pass "that smell" if the goodie that caught my eye is worth it. Last year we tore down an old bunkhouse and took it to the big dump. The big dump, or sand coulee warehouse, is where we offload building type materials at the local municipality. We have to drive all the way to the top and back, instead of using the big metal containers. While my hubby is removing the straps to said junk, I see something that catches my eye.."what the heck....... is a black silk lamp shade doing up here?".
Off to investigate with 2 children in tow. I'll be darned if someone didn't dump everything from gramma's attic. I found that cookie jar, glass rolling pin, linens, tiny pots and pans that my daughter happily latched onto for her play kitchen. Its a good thing they came with us, I needed extra arms. In the midst of all the euphoria of what I found I had a vision of a rattlesnake coming out from underneath some junk so it was time to vamoose. We get back to the pick up and my husband and another bloke were making fun of me. I quickly shot off "go ahead and laugh this cookie jar is worth around $40 bucks pal, enough to pay for that tire yer gonna pop gettin outta here". Sure enough guess what happens after we unload and drive off......yup, tire going flat. My husband says "well honey you better get that cookie jar sold" to which I reply " HA!No way man!! you made fun of me so I'm not gonna selling it, that'll teach ya"!!! *sticking tongue out* I was trying so so so hard not to burst out laughing, I couldnt help it!! I keep him because its a good story and it is indeed functional. We were not charged at the tire shop to repair the tire either. I told my hubby, this was the universe sending him this lesson in learning to not look down his nose at my "treasures". sidenote: thrift stores and dumps give him the eebie jeebies.

The moral of my story is I don't keep every antique that I come across. They have to be functional or have a good story behind it, not just dust collectors. My family has the junk gene, and for some reason if its antique it must be kept. I disagree, if they are not functional or loved then buh bye! The dish towels we use and I gave the rolling pin to an antiques dealer. I never asked him for money, I asked him to just keep on the look out for a an enamelware bread box for me. I dont get too wrapped in "this is worth this much money" because that is only true when you find someone to actually pay that price. If you can, try to sell them to pad an emergency fund, but don't get hung up on what you think, or someone else might think they are worth. Get what you can and let it go. It was not to long ago I realized clutter is clutter even if it is an antique.

Keep it simple cowgirls!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

My 2 cents on coupons

I do like coupons. I like big coupons, as in $10 coupons. I rarely, if ever clip what I call "token coupons". Meaning the name brand item still costs more combined with coupon savings than the store brand. For example: Motrin/childrens ibuprofen. I always buy the store brand. Name brand milk vs. store brand. It does pay however to pay attention to prices and when you do stumble upon a coupon for something that you do indeed use or looking for then by all means clip that coupon.

I regularly look for oil change coupons, bath and body works coupons to get product as gifts for my mom, she loves Bath and Body works, and I like the hand soap and buy one get one free coupons, those kinds of things. When there comes a time when I go shopping for something specific I will first look it up online to see if I can find a printable coupon.

I cook from scratch like a good lil ranch gal, so it does not pay for me to purchase ready made cookie dough even with a coupon. It does however pay well to shop for case prices and buy in bulk such as the deal I found a while back... $11 for a case of store brand chocolate chips. That is less that 50 cents per bag, as there were 24 bags. I can make a hearty meaty homemade chicken soup so why pay for ready made soup? That is where my savings dividends come in.

Our grocery stores here do not double coupons like they used to back in the day. I still remember Double Coupon Tuesday with fond memories and it is a thing of the past for me. I have taken on the new role of "hunter" in my house and that is "huntin for deals" and I always bring home the bag. We went from approximately $800/month down to $550. For a family of 5. Less in the summer, as we have a prolific garden.

Know your grocery stores, know your product and find the time to do it. When I first started this whole meal planning thing, I slashed my spending by 250 dollars. I might spend 2 hours per week planning, shopping and coupon-ing (is that even a word?). Over a years time that breaks down to this...

250x12(months)=3,000 less dollars spent
2 hours x 52 weeks=104 hours it takes me to plan
3,000 bucks divided by 104 hours = $28.85/hour in savings! Its worth it to me and my family. Talitha over at Sugar Sprouts would call that "mom wages"....I call it "trimmin the fat". It is my job to make the most of the income coming in, and I do it with a smile, sometimes hootin and hollerin when I really score a good bargain.

Menu Plan Monday

Time to get back into the swing of things now that school has resumed. I have been menu planning for a year now, it has slashed my grocery budget by a few hundred dollars, as it really taught me to watch prices and food does not go to waste. This is the first time I have posted the menu. I will be talking coupons later. My gal pal Lisa got me hooked on printable coupons, combined with cruising online adds it makes for a much more enjoyable experience and reduces the temptation of throwing whatever in the cart. Gotta have a plan girls, it really helps no matter what your budget is.Photobucket

Breakfasts rotate oatmeal with fruit/protein smoothies or eggs with veggie scramble on whole grain tortillas.
Lunches consist of leftovers from the night before with a side salad. Hubby takes a lunch 90% of the time.
Snacks are a choice of fruit, almonds, hard boiled egg,crunchy vegetables.

Dinners are all served with a vegetable and a green salad.

Monday: Sheperds Pie
Tuesday: Pot Roast
Wednesday: Fagitas
Thursday: Chicken Rice Curry
Friday: Tacos or Taco Salad
Saturday: Chili and cornbread
Sunday: Beef Noodle and Chicken Noodle soups with homemade (freeze extra for hubby lunches)

On track today to get my cupboards cleaned up and plan my 2 week shopping list as well as it is the beginning of the month. We are trying to increase our vegetable intake. Both my hubby and I feel bloated and sluggish after the holidays.

Have a wonderful day Cowgirls, junk gypsy's, sisters and Moms everywhere!!!!


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Simple Pizza Dough

this is so easy when you have a kitchen aid mixer, for 2 large pizzas

Pizza Dough

2T yeast
1/3 c. sugar or honey
2 c. warm water

let sit for 15 minutes to get good and bubbly

add 1/2 c. oil
1 tsp salt
5-6 cups of flour
Mix with your dough hook till all balled up and not sticky. oil the ball with a tad bit, and let rise in the same mixing bowl.
(I use less flour when I use whole wheat flour in the recipe, and I only do a 50/50 ratio of w.w. to white)

Let rise to double and punch down, roll out using a bit of cornmeal on the counter. You may also add italian seasoning, garlic and parmesean to the dough for some amazing bread sticks. bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes. I also use this recipe for basic bread with an extra rise time for a warm after school snack. I always gets lots of hugs from the kids and hubby when the house smells of fresh baked bread. Its a keeper.

It is economical to make this, I can make 2 loaded pizza's for around 10 bucks total, compared to the $30 for delivery, who would not do this!! You can even freeze the dough for later. Just take it out and let it thaw and rise on the counter while you are at work. It just takes a bit of planning ahead.
can also be used to make homemade hot pockets (turkey/cheese, pepperoni/cheese,ham/cheese,steak/cheese) and cinnamon rolls as well!! Simple and a quadruple threat type of all purpose recipe.

Simple, Simple *smooch*

Yard Sales

If you have enormous amounts of "good junk" aka clutter that you are ridding yourself of and at the end of the 1st round have a yard sale and put that money into an emergency fund. I live in the North and there is still snow on the ground when I did my first haul it was alot of that little crap. The amazing thing was I still had enough big stuff to outfit a well stocked yard sale in June. We made almost $300 and the kids pitched in a few big ticket toys they were not using as well. My niece and nephew took part and rounded up $150 for Closeup. Once the yard sale is over, box it up and either deliver to the goodwill or have them pick it up, very convenient with those heavy items. Do not keep on keeping clutter for future yard sales. Think about the time it takes to pack it up, move it, set up and so forth. Your time is valuable, send the stuff that did not sell to goodwill and let it go.

I am going to host a garage sale in the middle of winter via an internet listing site for our community. 1 morning, I will list everything before hand, have it all ready to go and first come first serve. I have to move it all anyways, its slow this month and folks are indeed looking for bargains, and I am looking to fund a specific purchase. So its win win.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

What I dream of......

Some women want diamonds.....I want this! I think its one of the most beautiful laundry rooms I have seen a while. Its petite and functional. It would make a perfect 18 year anniversary gift dontcha think? The best part is it has the exact same style cabinet doors as my kitchen!! aaahhhh its so purdy!!


Laundry room pix


looking into the laundry room: To the left is the chest freezer, and to the right is the sewing dresser with the guinea pigs on top, then cat food and trash can then the obvious. Its a handy set up for the time being, in about 18 months I will have my coveted cabinets and counter top with a small sink. I found the old red cabinet at my girlfriends shabby chic shop, and it worked perfectly. They were part of some old kitchen cabinets and were pink, she painted them red added some knobs and voila....neat.


a closer peek at the set up.


My cabinet above the washer and dryer. Thank you Laura over at Organizing Junkie, you were the inspiration for this set up.

Laundry rooms continued...

Now that you have cleared out all the piles of extra laundry, washed and put away. Bags of extra clothing sent to your local Goodwill or church. Lets address what else the laundry room can purpose as well. Mine is also used as a psuedo pantry of home maitenance.

In a cabinet above the washer and dryer I have baskets (labeled too) that hold all my home maintenance type of things. Most used are the easiest to reach then the least used but still needed are on top.
and I can tell you what the order is without looking.....impressive eh?
bottom shelf left to right: sock box, laundry soap, and a basket that holds, a hammer, nails, screws, screw driver, tape measure, some hooks, command strips, packaging tape, and some caulking that cannot freeze

2nd shelf: fabric softener, a basket that contains, stain stick/spray, plant food, eucalyptus essential oil (I add this to my unscented fabric softener. You could use whatever essential oil you would prefer.) a basket of rags, hair clippers in a zipper bag and a box of garbage bags.

3rd shelf: extra ziplocks, foil etc, a tupperware container of guinea pig food, a basket for pet care essentials, and then a basket of light bulbs.

4th shelf. Basket of septic system additive, a gallon of paint and a basket of painting supplies for touch ups around the house.

That was all that would fit and still remain easy access.

The dresser in there that needs some TLC serves as storage for sewing supplies and placed on top for the guinea pigs. It is easier keep their cages clean and when the kids get them out the shredded bedding gets everywhere, solution: Put them where its easy access to a broom. Its also nice and bright in there for their enjoyment. I will not have a pet that is relegated to a back room, they are part of our family and we have them where their is alot of motion and activty.

Laundry rooms and clothes closets,,,,

Now this can be one of those things like the chicken or the egg, what come first.
I understand not everyone has the "perfect laundry room" like we see in Better Homes and Gardens. It is an area that we must address. Your washing machines are to your clothes as your dishwasher is to your dishes, or your shower is to you. If it is piled up then make the resolution to clean it up once and for all. What you are going for here is an "easy flow of laundry", in then out. I have seen bare closets with piles of laundry to do, if you fit this bill then you must devolope a system and routine to get them put away. I have seen stuffed closets with piles of laundry. Fit the bill?then it is time to get rid of some things. With folks that have minimal to moderate amounts of clothing, ie stuff they wear,use and love, they are the ones that can and do stay on top of it. So while you are decluttering your closets and dressers, start that washer. and be ruthless when it comes time to address the skinny jeans and fat jeans. Only keep what you wear. Toss out any stained shirts, use them as rags whatever. Just do not keep them in your clothing rotation.

My husband taught me laundry simplicity. He is out in the field away from home in the summer, his solution was to only buy navy colored t-shirts and light gray t-shirts. I asked him why? "Well that way I only have 2 loads of laundry, darks and whites." He put the navy t-shirts in with his jeans and the light gray ones in with his socks and underwear. Simple solution.

What I have for the kids's wardrobe

for each child
I keep a minimum of 10 complete outfits for each season. Good mix and match for maximum usability. It really is plenty.
8 extra shirts
2 winter coats
snow pants
2 hoodies
2 vests
2 hats and gloves
2 swim suits
4 pairs of shoes including their winter boots, and 1 pair of Keens for the summer.
10 pairs of all same colored socks and underwear
2 pairs of jammies
2 pair of long john base layers
and a few more odds and ends such as belts, hats, cami's, tights and scarves

We are teaching them to keep it simple. We are also teaching them to keep track of their stuff. My two youngest have had the same pair of winter gloves for 1 year and have not lost them. When they do misplace them they know they must find them or they dont get to play outside when its winter.

They have a hamper in their room and when its time for is their job to bring it to me. They can push all sorts of wagons and what not outside, they can push a hamper to the laundry room. They put away their pants, jammies, socks and underwear as well. The shirts I hang. This is teaching them 1. To take care of their stuff and 2. Mom is not your maid.

Off season stuff is stored in a vacuum bag and not in the daily rotation.

To simplify my wardrobe I went to What not to Wear and got a baseline of what to keep. I follow it religiously and even if you are on tight clothing budget like I am, its still no excuse to hold on to stuff that doesn't fit, or is in tatters. My favorite sweater to this day is a black silk merino wool blend with V neck line I found for 3 bucks. I have alot of basics, like brown, black, navy, ivory, gray and good jeans, a few dress slacks and a few great accesories to mix and match. A decent rotation of underthings and a must have for all women.. good fitting bra! Once I was properly sized at Breakout Bras, there was no looking back in this department!! Do it, it can make a world of difference. I have my favorite winter shoes (a pair of brown Ariat fat baby's) and my favorite summer shoe...keen. Some nice heels, a few birki's, my good snow boots and my tennis shoes. I do need some casual all purpose wrap dresses for the summer. So I am on the look out for those now.

Remember we only use 20% of our clothing 80% of the time, so you really could ditch most of your closet.

Any"what if" stuff for children, like baby stuff will be addressed in a post unto itself.

good luck!!
Simple Cowgirl

Friday, January 2, 2009

The 2 ton grocery bag....

Remember that blip about me tossing aside some Christmas stuff I didnt want to deal with.....I finally did it. I call it the 2 ton grocery bag......the emotional baggage is that heavy. I am a somewhat sentimental person. Its a bag of what not like ornaments that I bought years ago, they remind me of struggle, hardship and my quest to create a "perfect Christmas". That is the truth, that is what I was experiencing at the time I bought them at the thrift store, that is what first comes to mind when I see them and feel them. My heart sinks remembering about how was I going to give my daughter a christmas as a struggling, going to nursing school single mom. Now I "know" I should be grateful of my accomplishments of graduating and making it. I am, I worked my hump off, but I do not need to remind myself of the emotional garbage I was dealing with of that decade.

I have major issues surrounding the holidays and 90% of them are centered around "false expectations" of myself and others. Seriously who needs 100's of ornaments, enough to decorate 5 full size trees anyways.....that is nuts!!

It started when I was a small child, I loved it when dad brought the tree into our living room and when it came time to decorate it, us kids were not allowed to touch it and take part. My mom was an absolute perfectionist and the tinsel had to be perfect, the ornaments evenly spaced and balanced. When it came time for me to have my own tree in my own living room........guess what I did..........the same damn thing my mom did, excet the tinsel. Each year I solidified that negative experience deeper within me every time I decorated a tree, and I did it for almost 15 years.
When that FINALLY (some would think I was a slow learner, no, just stubborn) occured to me, I hated myself for doing it to my own children. What also occured to me is no matter how many trees in my house, no matter how many ornaments I collected it would never replace or fill that hole in my heart of wanting to be part of it all when I was small. It was time to move on and stop reliving that movie in my head. Karen Kingstons ideaology about "collections" and "basements" hit me like a ton of bricks, and that is what it took for me to "get it" felt good to understand the "why", forgive myself and move on. It is one reason the holidays are less stressful. I dont really care what my tree looks like now and my kids do 80% of the hanging of the ornaments. My son hangs all sorts of stuff out of the toybox on the tree. Its so cute.....and get this he whacked one of the antique 50's ornaments off and it shattered, swinging a stick playing Chang off of Mulan, I just guided him in cleaning it up. I did not freak out, 10 years ago I would have had a meltdown. He did feel bad for doing it, and the stick went outside but the important thing was I did not flip over a 10 cent decoration, and pass that on to my son.

Keep working on your de-cluttering, it is truly a process of paring down. Oh and that 2 ton grocery bag.....its gone-dee!!