Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pink Saturday -- 2/27/10

For this week's Pink Saturday, I wanted to share a sewing project that I completed a couple of weeks ago.

This table centerpiece is made with a pattern that my Grandmother passed down to me. I am not sure where she got it (I think she copied it from a friend), but her pattern was made from a paper grocery sack, and I copied my pattern onto a paper grocery sack as well just to carry on the tradition! When she let me borrow her pattern she told me "don't lose it, it's one of a kind!"
It's a rather easy pattern. It consists of 1 big circle, and then you have to cut out 15 petals (5 petals each of 3 fabrics). You sew the petals together, then sew together with your batting and backing (this one is hot pink!). I then added hot pink piping to the center circle and then hand stitched it on (which took FOREVER!!)

Here is a close up picture of the cute fabrics I found at JoAnne's. I found one of those little bundles with 4 different coordinating fabrics for $4.99 and then I got it 40% off with a coupon. It was just enough fabric to make the centerpiece, and then I had enough left over to make a bunch of coasters. I gave a set of 4 of the coasters to one of my friends for her birthday, and I have another set cut out and ready so sew. Maybe I'll get that accomplished this weekend. =)

Anyway, I love how it turned out, and the bright colors and flower patterns are a great way to bring spring into my dining room!

Here's hoping spring comes soon for everyone!!
And the Pink Saturday participant blog I visited this week was Petite Little Bee. Check it out!
Also, check out Beverly's blog for more on Pink Saturday!
Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Show Us Your Life -- Collections

Kelly over at Kelly's Korner has a weekly Show Us Your Life every Friday. This week's it's all about collections.

Now I don't have anything major that I collect such as antiques, or Barbies, or anything like that, but over the last few years I have found that I have an obession with collecting recipes. It's funny because I am not that great at cooking, much better at baking, but I get obsessed with cookbooks and other kitchen gadgets.

Lately I have been challenging myself to try at least one new recipe from my collection a week. Since I typically only cook for myself, even one recipe a week can lead to meals all week long. In addition to cooking a dinner item, sometimes I might try someting for breakfast or snacks/desserts as well. So far I have been doing pretty good, and am really enjoying it.

These are just a few of the cookbooks that I have collected.

Some of my favorites include:

Giada's Kitchen -- love her! And I watch her show every week! And some of her recipes can be very simple, even though the dish looks like it can be complex.

Hungry Girl 200 under 200 -- these are such simple recipes and not bad on fat and calories. There are a lot of ingredients that you may not typically have on hand that you need such as splenda, egg beaters, vita tops, etc. Other than that, everything I have tried has been pretty good.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks -- I ordered this off of amazon and recieved it this week. I am really excited to try some of these recipes.

Giada at Home -- I have this on pre-order, so I can't wait to get it!! Did I mention that I love her!!

In addition to cookbooks, I have been collecting recipes online for a couple of years now and my collection is getting rather large. I have put together some binders (I am now at 2) to organize all of my recipes.


This is just one of my binders, and you can read more about my recipe binders here.

Does anyone have any cookbook recommendations or favorite websites to find recipes? I am always looking to add to my collection.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Habitat for Humanity

Last week my company volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. Only 8 people could volunteer at once, so we ended up with 2 shifts. My shift was last Friday (2/19).

I'll admit I was very nervous. It was only going to be in the 30's and I knew that we would be working outside. I was so bundled up with about 4 layers on. I was also nervous because I am not handy at all and have never used power tools. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.


Am I looking stylish in my hard hat and safety goggles or what?!?

The morning started out with everyone getting a lesson on safety. They passed out hard hats and safety goggles, and we learned the basics of being safe on the job site (like how to use a ladder). I guess the number one accident on the job site is slips and falls.

Then they asked who wanted to be on a ladder and who wanted to stay on the ground. Now of course I am afraid of heights, so I immediately said, "keep me on the ground!" I was then sent off with the team to work on the porch.


We first started off building a safety railing around the porch. This involved nailing some 2x4's up around the porch. Let me tell you, hammering nails was hard. My poor little wrists were getting tired quickly. Then we had to cut some 2x4's in half, so I got my chance at a circular saw. This scared me to death! I thought I was going to cut my finger off or something, but after I tried it I was hooked!!


After the safety railings were up, we needed to finish screwing the boards down on the porch. We had to first drill small holes in each board, and then using a drill, screw in the boards. At first I wanted to drive in the screws because I was afraid that I would somehow mess up drilling the holes. But I wasn’t strong enough to drive in the screws (you have to put your whole body weight into it). So I ended up taking over the drilling. It was actually pretty easy, and a lot of fun.

Halfway through the day we took a break for lunch. We weren’t able to leave the job site since we only had about 15-20 mins for lunch, so we all had to bring packed lunches. I felt like we were all on a school trip with our brown bagged lunches. We ended up sitting in a circle around this big heater inside the house to keep warm.

After lunch I was back to drilling, and then we moved on to installing some blue board on the outside of the house. By afternoon it had started to warm up, and of course the snow started melting and the whole yard became nothing but a muddy mess. It was still kind of fun.

We wrapped up around 3:30, and let me tell you, I was so exhausted. We really put in some hard physical labor. I went home, took a nice long hot bath, and then took a nap.

Habitat for Humanity is an amazing organization. I had a chance to learn a little bit about the organization while I was working. Families must qualify for a home, and actually pay for the house with a 0% interest loan. They also must put in some sweat equity. There are a couple of crew leaders who are employed by Habitat, but the majority of the workers are volunteers. There were also some students who were there for class credit. There were a few workers who were retired and volunteered a couple of days a week. Houses typically take about 5 months to be built or rehabbed, although I guess they have built a house in as little as 8 weeks! The Central Ohio Habitat typically works on about 25 houses a year (which seems like a lot!!).

The house we were working on was actually about 100 years old, and they basically gutted the whole house and were rehabbing it. It was scheduled to be completed by March 31, but they thought it might not be complete by then.

Overall it was an amazing experience and I am hoping to go back and volunteer again, hopefully when it is a little warmer. If you ever get a chance to volunteer, please do so!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

So Long, Insecurity

I came across this book last week on a few blogs, So Long, Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us by Beth Moore. I have been going through some tough times lately (and this rough winter weather hasn't helped much!!), and it’s amazing how things like this come along when you need them the most. I immediately ordered it and am hoping to be able to start reading it sometime this week. There is a Discussion Group on The Living Proof Ministries blog that I have been reading along with while I wait for my book to come from (hopefully tomorrow!!).

It’s funny because I know that I am a strong and very smart woman (I have a master's degree for goodness sakes!!), but for some reason I can't seem to knock the insecurities. And my perfectionist personality sure doesn't help. In addition, I am always worrying about EVERYTHING! Which I am sure most women do.

Has anyone else heard about or read this book? I'll be sure to give you an update once I am able to read it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chedder Cheese Baked Potato Soup

I made this recipe yesterday for lunch and it was pretty good. I got the recipe from Food Network, it was a Sandra Lee Semi-homemade recipe, and I modifed it slightly. You can get the original recipe here.

I liked the recipe because it was quick and easy. I think it took maybe a half hour total, the majority of the time it just simmered on the stove, and it allowed me some time to catch up on some cleaning while it simmered.

Chedder Cheese Baked Potato Soup


-- 2 med baking potatoes (the org recipe called for 1, but I wanted more potato in my soup)
-- 2 (10-ounce) cans Cheddar cheese soup
-- 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
-- 2-3 strips of bacon (I used turkey bacon b/c it is healthier and b/c that is what I had on hand)
-- Sour cream, for garnish
-- Chopped green onions for garnish (I didn't have any on hand, so I didn't inlcude these)


Microwave the baking potatoes for 7 to 8 minutes on high. Pierce with a fork to ensure they are done. Carefully remove from microwave using oven mitts. They will be HOT! Set aside until cool enough to touch. When potatoes are cool, cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Add cheese soup, chicken stock, and bacon pieces to a medium pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally over medium high heat. Add potato and continue to heat soup for 5 minutes.
Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a few chopped green onions.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tips Tuesday: Tips for Cleaning

This week's Tips Tuesday (hosted by Leslie at Lambers Lately) is Tips for general cleaning.

I actually enjoy cleaning (maybe it's my OCD coming out). Even though I live by myself, I clean every week. It's funny because when I was 15 years old, I used to clean my parents' and neighbors' houses during the summer. I was so desperate for my own money!!

Typically I do the majority of my cleaning on the weekends, because I just don't have time during the week, but I do try and keep things picked up throughout the week. This allows me to focus on the major cleaning on the weekends and keeps my time down to a few short hours.

Every weekend I clean the bathrooms and sweep. I clean out the fridge and clean the kitchen on Thurs or Fri after I go to the grocery store. As for dusting, moping, and other really heavy duty cleaning, I tend to do that either every 2 weeks, or maybe once a month (it just depends on when it needs it).

Tips/products that I typically use include:

1. Commet -- I use this for cleaning bathtubs, toilets, the kitchen sink. It's a great general cleaner, and is really inexpensive.

2. For counters I tend to use a spray cleaner, typically whatever states it will kill germs and is on sale. Right now I think I am using Lysol bathroom cleaner.

3. Mr Clean Magic Eraser -- This is so wonderful to get scuffs off floors, walls, etc. If you don't have one, go out and get one!

4. Swiffer and Mr Clean -- I use a swiffer to mop, but I actually use Mr Clean in a spray bottle instead of the swiffer refill. They got so expensive to replace, so I bought a large bottle of Mr Clean and put some in a spray bottle with water and use that instead. I think the bottle of Mr Clean I bought has lasted me about 2 years now.

5. Organizing cleaning products -- I have all of my cleaning products stored in a little bucket with a handle (see pic below). This helps keep everything together, and the handle makes it easy to carry from room to room.

6. A clean smelling house is a happy house -- I am a big fan of candles and airfreshners. It really helps to keep things smelling clean, especially if you have pets. I am in love with the Bath and Body Works Wallflowers and I also love their Slatkin & Co. candles. My favorites in the winter are Fireside, Spice, Cranberry and Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin. For the spring and summer I really like the floral and tropical scents.

If anyone has any great cleaning tips, please share. Otherwise, head on over to Leslie's blog for even more cleaning tips.

Weekend recap: Dinner and a Movie

This weekend wasn't too eventful, which was totally fine after a very eventful Friday. My company volunteered for Habitat for Humanity last week, and my shift was Friday. It was a ton of fun, but also a lot of hard work. I was exhausted Friday night and for most of Saturday. I am hoping to have some pictures soon, so I'll have to recap that a little later this week.

On Saturday evening my boyfriend and I went to Steak n Shake for dinner -- love their steakburgers and Hershey Special Dark shakes!! I kind of felt like teenagers because there were a ton of highschool kids hanging out there. Whatever helps you feel young I guess!!

We then went back to my boyfriend's house and watched Couples Retreat on DVD. It was a pretty funny movie, but we decided there were some parts that could have been funnier. The resort where the marjority of the movie was shot was beautiful! Really made me want to go away on vacation.

Well, now the weekend is almost over and it's time to get ready to go back to work. We are supposed to have more snow tomorrow, but I think it's supposed to be more rain than snow. I am hoping that is the case because I am so over the snow!

Hope everyone has a great week!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pink Saturday -- 2/20/10

Hello everyone and Happy Pink Saturday!

For this week's Pink Saturday, I thought it would be fun to focus on one of my favorite things: SHOES!! I thought I would start off by sharing one of my favorite Sex and the City quotes:

“It's really hard to walk in a single woman's shoes -- that's why you sometimes need really special shoes!” – Carrie SATC

And of course, what would Pink Saturday be without any pink shoes. I actually don't own a pair of pink shoes...I know...and I have a lot of shoes! So I am thinking, maybe I'll need to invest in a pair...any of these will do!


Bailey Button -- UGG: I love UGGs and this is the first time I have seen this style. I especially love this shade of pink!


Mylie Pump -- Gabriella Rocha: You can never go wrong with a classic pump, and the snakeskin in this hot pink color is to die for!


Calico -- CARLOS by Carlos Santana: As Rachael Zoe might say...these shoes are "bananas!" Love the hot pink, and the criss cross design.


Amayan -- Lauren by Ralph Lauren: Last year I saw some floral shoes that I totally wanted, but never got. These are so fun and I think they would go with anything pink, yellow or green. So cute with a sun dress, or even to just dress up a pair of jeans.

All shoes were I believe under $100 (well, except the UGG boots) and available through Zappos. Check them out!

And check out Beverly's blog for more info on Pink Saturday and to find other Pink Saturday participants.

And the blog that I wanted to share with everyone this week is

Melissa @ Create the Life You Love -- This is the blog that actually introduced me to Beverly's blog and Pink Saturday.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Black Eyed Peas and a Fun Swap

I don't know about you, but with all the snow and cold weather, I have just been feeling kind of frumpy and a little blue. So when I can across this fun Nail Polish and More Swap, I was like "sign me up!!"

I love painting my nails fun colors, but really haven't been too good at keeping up with it lately. Typically in the summer though, I always have my toes painted. I don't really go for the crazy bright colors, but typically stay with the pinks, reds and burgandy colors. I do want to try some fun purple polish sometime soon. Anyway, if you are interested, head on over to Confessions of a Control Freak and sign up!

And for even more fun, last night my boyfriend and I went to the Black Eyed Peas concert. We weren't planning on going, but at about 5 pm yesterday, my boyfriend emails me that he got 2 free tickets. They were aweful seats (the second to last row at the top), but hey, they were free.

The opening act was Ludacris who is a hard core rapper. I am not a huge fan of him or rap really, so I didn't care much for him. The bass was so loud, you could hardly hear any music or a word he was saying.

The Black Eyed Peas though were awesome! The costumes, lights, graphics, it was all so much fun. Totally worth the 20 min walk in the cold and slush and waiting in line with a bunch of teenie boppers (we both felt sooo old!).

I totally forgot my camera, and tried to take a picture using my phone, but between the lights and us being so far away, it really didn't turn out, but you get the point.

Fergie sang about 5 songs off of her solo album, and it was awesome! Probably my favorite part of the concert.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tips Tuesday -- Tips for Cooking

This week's Tips Tuesday (hosted by Leslie at Lamberts Lately) is Tips for Cooking. When I first saw this topic, I kind of laughed. I am not the best cook (I am a great baker though, and am in the process of learning how to cook), so I wasn't sure how many tips I would be able to share. But I have been thinking about it all week, and have a few that might be helpful.

1. Burning soup/sauces/other items on the stovetop -- I actually saw this on the Rachel Ray Show last week. If you are cooking something in a pot on the stovetop, such as soup, sauces, etc., and it starts to burn, DO NOT STIR! You should just quickly remove from the burner, find a pot similar in size, and dump into a new pot. Whatever is burnt will just stay stuck to the bottom of the pot, and you will save whatever is not burnt. If you try and stir, you will end up mixing in all those burnt pieces, and will probably ruin whatever you are making.

2. Cutting board help -- I saw this on 2 shows last week also (Rachel Ray and Barefoot Contessa). Put a damp papertowl under your cutting board, and it will help keep your cutting board from slipping around.

3. Test drive those cookbooks -- I love cookbooks, but hate when you end up buying a cookbook (especially online) to find out you only like a handful of recipes. I have started borrowing cookbooks from the library. I can read through them, test out a few recipes, and then if I really like the book, I will then buy it. If I only like a few recipes (hopefully I won't get arrested for this!!) I just make copies of them and then take the books back.

4. Online recipes -- I have gotten a ton of recipes from, and I always print them out for easy reference, but then I end up with a stack of recipes.


I ended up putting together a binder of recipes that I had printed off online. I even decorated a cover page for the binder and divider pages for each of the sections. My binder is getting really full, so I might have to start a second one.



Some of the divider pages.

5. Jen's special tip -- My very special tip of all times is....if all else fails, just put a bunch of cheese on it! Works everytime, especially if you really like cheese!

If anyone has any great cooking tips to share, please let me know. Otherwise head on over to Leslie's blog for even more cooking tips.

A vintage apron, pancakes, and yes, more snow!

A couple of weeks ago my mom and I made this vintage apron.

It was a kit by Springs Creative that included pre-printed fabric (you just cut the pieces out) and instructions. Some of the kits mentioned you can do this within an hour. Mom and I took our time (I cut the pieces out while watching tv), so it probably took us about 1.5 hours, but if you were pretty fast you could probably do this within an hour.

Mom showed me a handy way for turning the straps inside-out. We sewed some cording inside the tube, and then used that to pull it inside out. Overall it wasn't too difficult (depsite some of the online reviews which said it was really difficult, not sure if they were inexperienced sewers or not, or maybe they just needed Mom =).

Then this weekend I was watching an episode of Down Home with the Neelys (they are so much fun to watch), and they were making pancakes. This got me craving some pancakes (which I realized I haven't had in years!!) so I decided to try and make some from scratch (since I didn't have any pancake mix). Now I didn't have all the ingredients to make the Neelys version (but try it out, it looked good), so I tried a version from Nigella Lawson's How to Be A Domestic Goddess cookbook.

Stack of pancakes
The nice big pancake that I made to finish up the batter.

American Breakfast Pancakes

-- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
-- 1 tablespoon baking powder
-- pinch of salt
-- 1 teaspoon sugar
-- 2 large eggs, beaten
-- 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
-- 1 1/3 cups milk

I mixed all ingredients in a blender (per Nigella's recommendation), and then poured onto my electric skillet. Very tastey.
And of course, today we have even more snow. This is the 3rd big snowstorm in a little over a week. And none of the snow from the previous 2 storms has melted yet, so the piles just keep getting bigger and bigger.
Pile of snow just off my patio (which is also covered in snow yet again).
Abby with snow on her nose. I think she is starting to get fed up also!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day to everyone! Just wanted to share some of my Valentines weekend fun!

Friday night my boyfriend and I celebrated our Valentines Day. We went out to dinner at
Marcellas, which i love!! I had the Penne Alla Vodka and he had the Chicken Parmesan. Both were delicious!!

Then when we got home we exchanged gifts. I gave him his homemade sugar cookies (which I shared in yesterdays Pink Saturday), and a card, and he gave me some beautiful tulips, a card, and some homemade cookie bars. Isn't it funny we gave each other baked gifts?!? Neither one of us really likes candy, but we both LOVE cookies!


Flowers from my boyfriend.


Peanut butter cookie bars with melted chocolate (very good, I can't stop eating them!!)

Then on Saturday, I hung out with a few of my girlfriends to celebrate one of my girlfriend's birthday. We went out to lunch, and then went to go see the movie Valentines Day.

It was pretty cute! It did have a lot of story lines, and the only thing that I didn't like about it is because there were so many story lines, you didn't really get a chance to really bond with the main characters (like you do with so many romatic comedies) with so many main characters. Parts of the ending though were kind of suprising.

After that we went back to my place for Enchilada Night. I made the following Chile-Chicken Enchiladas (I found this recipe on but I modified it; you can find the original recipe

Chile-Chicken Enchiladas (Jen's version)
1 can (19 oz) enchilada sauce (any variety)
2 cups diced cooked chicken
2 cups shredded fiesta blend cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles
1/4 of yellow onion
6 flour tortillas for burritos

Pour half of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a greased baking dish.

Then mix the chicken, 1 cup of cheese, sour cream, green chiles and onion into a bowl and mix together. Then spoon the mixture into the 6 tortillas. Roll up the tortillas and place seam side down in the baking dish. Then pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the tortillas and cover with the remaining 1 cup of cheese (or more if you really like cheese!!).

Then cover with foil and bake at 350 for 35 mins. Then remove the foil and bake an additional 5-10 mins until the cheese is melted and slightly brown.

We also made some salsa, guac and homemade tortilla chips (just cut tortillas into 6 triangle pieces by cutting in half and then cut the halfs into thirds), spraying butter or oil on them along with some sea salt, and baking at 350 for 4 mins and then flipping and baking for an additional 3-4 mins until they are slightly brown (so good!!)

We also watched Love Happens with Jennifer Aniston & Aaron Eckhart while we ate dinner. It was a cute movie as well.


Today I have just been relaxing, catching up on my DVR and doing a little cleaning. Hope everyone had a great weekend as well!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pink Saturday -- 2/13/10

Happy Pink Saturday everyone and Happy Valentine's Day. For Valentine's Day, I wanted to share with everyone some fun things I have been working on this week.
First off, I made some yummy valentine sugar cookies for my boyfriend. We both LOVE cookies, probably way too much, so I thought it would be fun to make and decorate some cookies for him. I found some really cute Wilton heart shaped cookie cutters and then made the cookies and icing from scratch. The recipe I used for the cookies is from the Southern Living Incredible Cookies cookbook. They turned out awesome, as are many of the recipes in that book (I have made many of them). I highly recommend this cookbook, especially if you love making cookies. I was missing one of the ingredients for the icing from this book, so I found a recipe on for the icing. It was ok, but I am sure the icing from Southern Living would have been better (next time).

These are just some of the cookies I gave to my boyfriend, along with a cute card I found at Target.


This is a fun one that, maybe I kept for myself =)

Also, as I mentioned in last week's Pink Saturday post, I started my own "The Martha Stewart Challenge." This challenge is to take some of the ideas from the current Martha Stewart Living magazine, and try them out. One of the articles in the February 2010 issue shared how you can make a cute rose stamp out of corregated cardboard (for the petals) and a wine cork (for the leaves). You can find the instructions here. I decided to make a few cards and send them to my Grandparents. They love it when their grandkids make homemade things.

This is one of the cards that I thought turned out pretty good.

Not a great picture, but some more cards, and matching envelopes.

I'll admit, this was harder than I thought it was going to be. First of all, I didn't have any red and green stamp pads. And because I am cheap, I mean thrifty, I used some red and green craft paint that I already had. It worked, but was kind of messy. It was kind of fun, and I had all the supplies (I stole a cardboard box from work), so I thought why not give it a try.

Anyway, head on over to Beverly's site for more info on Pink Saturday.

Also, check out some of the other Pink Saturday participants blogs (you can find even more through Beverly's site, so many fun blogs!!):

Gracie Jewellery -- she has some beautiful handmade jewelry

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine Special: Inspiration Wednesday

I thought with Valentine's Day just a few days away, I would share one of my favorite quotes from SATC:

"After a while, you just want to be with the one that makes you laugh." (Mr. Big)

And of course, who can't find a little inspiration from SJP. I have always loved that dress and those shoes!! I have a similar pair of shoes that I wore almost all the time last summer.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tips Tuesdays – Grocery Shopping

Leslie over at Lambert's Lately is having a blog hop on grocery tips. If you're interested in seeing more, check out her blog.

I have a few tips that I use when grocery shopping:

1. Determine a budget – I think it is important to determine a budget right up front. I am such a geek and have a spreadsheet that keeps track of all of my expenses. After determining all of my monthly expenses, I determined how much I could afford for grocery shopping. Right now my budget is $50 a week and that has to include everything from food, to cleaning products, to dog food. Sometimes I go over that budget, but I try and make up for it the next week by coming in under budget. It helps to keep me from going out of control at the grocery store.

2. Make a list – I always have a list of things I need to get hanging on my fridge. I start the list at the beginning of the week (I typically shop on Thurs or Fri), and write down things as I run out of them, or things that I think of during the week. I also use this list to track what I am spending. Instead of checking things off my list, I write down next to them an approx cost (I always round up or down to make it easier to calculate in my head). This helps me keep track of what I am spending and I can determine if I am able to splurge on something fun that week.

3. Check out the unit price – Sometimes buying the bigger size item is not always cheaper. Sometimes the smaller size item can be on sale, and sometimes it is just cheaper (I think they try and confuse us sometimes). Either way, I always check the unit price to see which item/size is cheaper per unit. I then know which item/size gives me the better deal.

4. Buy store brands – I don’t use a lot of coupons because I typically buy store brands for most items. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some name brand items that I like much better than store brands (i.e. cereal, some canned veggies, boxed dinners, frozen meals, etc.), but for the most part I buy the store brand, especially for staples such as milk, bread, sugar, flour, some cleaning products, sandwich bags and trash bags, over-the-counter drugs, etc. Sometimes they are even cheaper than the name brand product with the coupon. You just have to check and see what gets you the better deal, and if you are willing to try the store brand, go with it. They are getting much better than they were years ago.

5. Meal planning – If you sit down and plan out your menu for the week, you can sometimes buy items that can be used for multiple meals throughout the week. For instance, maybe you cook with chicken one week, or you incorporate rice, cheese and certain veggies into multiple meals. This helps to ensure you aren’t wasting items you buy every week, and helps in instances where it pays to buy in bulk or in larger sizes.

This takes some thinking, but I have found a wonderful site that can help out. I love the Kraft Foods website. Yes, they typically promote their brands of foods, but they have some great recipes that are easy and aren’t too expensive to make (and you can substitue other brands). They have this one section of their website called 1 bag, 5 dinners. This section has meal plans and grocery lists for making 5 meals with ingredients that can fit into 1 grocery bag (I’ll be honest, this has to be one of those large paper bags, because I can go into a store and buy 5 items and end up with 5 plastic grocery bags, but I digress.) Anyway, check it out here.

Those are the tips I have for now. If anyone has any tips you would like to share, please do.

Potato Skins

Ok, so I'll admit, I didn't actually watch much of the Superbowl (I had it on for a bit while I did a few things around the house), but I did make some fun Potato Skins just for the occasion.

This was a pretty simple recipe (see below). It just took some time and the only thing that was hard was scooping out the potatoes and keeping them from falling apart. I found that using a fork and scraping the insides out worked better than using a spoon.

Because it was just for me, I only cooked 2 potatoes, so I got 4 skins. I didn't really measure anything out either, just used what I thought looked right (which is typically so not me). Let me tell you though, the special ingredient in this is steak seasoning. I would have never thought to sprinkle steak seasoning on these potatoes, but oh my, it gave them a kick! I had some Kansas City steak seasoning, and it was sooo good!!

Potato Skins (courtsey of and Daisy Brand Sour Cream)

-- 6 small baking potatoes
-- 2 tablespoons melted butter (I used spray butter because it was easy)
-- 2 teaspoons seasoned salt (I used Kansas City Steak Seasoning because that is what I had)
-- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
-- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
-- 4 strips cooked, crumbled bacon (I used turkey bacon to make it somewhat healthier)
-- 3/4 cup Daisy Brand Sour Cream
-- 2 teaspoons snipped fresh chives (I didn't use this because I didn't have any, just as good without)

Lightly grease outside of potatoes, cut small slit in top and bake at 425 degrees F for 45 minute or until soft. Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out cooked potato, leaving a very thin layer of potato. (Save cooked potato for mashed potatoes or hash browns.)

Brush outside and inside of skins with melted butter. Sprinkle inside with steak seasoning and Parmesan cheese.

Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes or until crisp and bubbly.

Fill with cheddar cheese and bacon. Bake 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of chives.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pink Saturday -- 2/6/10

I am loving the cover of the February issue of Martha Stewart Living. Not only is it pink, but it is also chocolate!! I am debating on attempting to make this Chocolate Ganache Tartlet, but I am not going to lie, it does look a little complicated.

This brings me to my Pink Saturday topic. Not only do I just love the cover, but I have decided to start my own personal Martha Stewart challenge. I love looking through magazines, and many times I do nothing more than browse through them. I never attempt to do try the recipes or crafts or whatever.

So my challenge is to each month attempt to try a couple of the ideas in the Martha Stewart magazine, and other magazines I pick up throughout the year, and then document them here. I will admit, I can be a little domestically challenged, especially when it comes to cooking. Baking I am not too bad at, and I can do most crafts. Anway, I'll document my successes, along with my failures, and let you know, is it possible to be as good as Martha?

I have a couple things I am going to attempt this weekend and one of them is a craft I am planning on sharing at next week's Pink Saturday, a valentine's craft, so that should be fun and I am hoping not to hard.

Don't forget to check out Beverly's site for more info on Pink Saturday.

Also, another challenge for Pink Saturday is to visit another Pink Saturday participant's blog and share. This week I wanted to visit one of my new followers and Pink Saturday participant Tami at Pinkbuttercreme's Cottage Market Blog. Last week she had a cute "safari" themed birthday party, complete with monkey invitations, cupcake toppers and gift bags. Totally fun!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Whatever, Martha!

One of my favorite shows right now is Whatever, Martha! on the Fine Living channel. It is on Wed at 9 pm and is absolutely hilarious.

The premise of the show is that Alexis Stewart (Martha's daughter) and her friend Jennifer Koppelman Hutt watch clips from Martha's shows and make comments while watching them. During one of the segments, the girls typically try to follow along with what Martha is doing (crafting, cooking, etc.) and of course they always prove that no one is as good as Martha. The show also ends with a segment where they discuss a topic unrelated to Martha. Oh and by the way, the show is produced by Martha herself, so she is fully aware of what these two girls are doing.

Last night’s show started out with a segment of Martha sharing what tools she takes when going antiquing. The girls claimed that Martha was really going out and kidnapping people and cutting them up into tiny little pieces and using “antiquing” as an alibi. This was in part because Martha had an array of knives, ropes, plastic bags, etc. in her “antiquing” kit.

They then attempted to make Monte Cristo sandwiches with the “Count of Monte Cristo” who appeared in the episode with Martha and who was actually an employee of Martha’s. They didn’t do to bad, until Alexis flipped her sandwich and it flipped open and then fell apart.

They ended the show with a discussion on men dating younger women and women dating younger men.

Even if you don’t care for Martha, I think you will get a kick out of this show. Check it out!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Paula Deen: It Ain't All About the Cookin'

I just finished reading Paula Deen's memoir, and let me tell you, despite some shocking secrets about our dear Paula, it only made me love her more.

From 20 years of agoraphobia, to bad relationships and bad habits -- I promise I won't tell Paula :o), to starting her own business with only $200 to her name, Paula has had some hard times. But despite all of that, she has found the love of her life and has become a very successful business woman.

This book tells her story from her childhood, to her 20 year marriage, to starting her own business, to falling in love again. She even goes on to explain how you too can start up your own restaurant. And each chapter ends with one of Paula's own recipes.

Whether you love her recipes, or watching her on tv, or if you just want some inspiration, it was very interesting and a quick and easy read.