Tag Archives: frugal

My 2012 Goals

It’s said that if you put your goals into writing, you actually manage to accomplish them. I am taking a page of blog-speration from Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy (and if you aren’t reading her blog, you should be!) and here are my 2012 goals:

Financial

Spend less, bring in more– I am still working my Thirty-One business and I am hoping to expand more. I have a pretty good sized display kit, so I am really going to try to stop the excess shopping. I have kicked my previous retail demons, and since we are living in such a great climate, I can play outside with my kids rather than head to the den of temptation (aka the Mall.)

Get that emergency fund established. Enough Said.

Writing

Determine and Perfect my Blog Niche– Right now I write about a whole gamut of ideas and I have been thinking of trying to streamline it a bit more, to focus.

Begin actually writing my YA novel– instead of just planning and re-planning and re-planning

Write an ebook– I talked to a friend a few years back about writing a book and this might be the right platform for it!

Become Self-Hosted– It might run me about $10/ month for blog hosting, but it might earn me a bit more cred.

Health and Wellness

Kick Sugar– for good this time

Start Jogging again– There is this pin on Pinterest that really reflects my feeling towards running. But a second hand double jogging stroller is less expensive that a gym membership, and the loop around the Rose Bowl Stadium is about 3 miles (just about 5K.) Spend less.

Work on my flexibility– there is a Bikram Yoga place near us, but I might just get a few Yoga DVDs instead. Again, spend less.

Personal Mental Wellness

Get my budding friendships established– Make some “momma-only” dates with the ladies that I have met here

Meet other Spiritually focused At-Home Moms at our Church– there is not a mother’s type ministry at our Parish, so I think the Holy Spirit has been kind of pushing me to start something… Maybe Mass Readings at the Park or something.

Get out once a month for some alone time– Just a date with me and a coffee cup

Re-establish Friday Night Date Night– for a bit, DH and I were having Friday Night Dates at home and they need to come back. Maybe even take some Tango lessons…

Reading

Actually finish reading Anna Karenina and The Lord of the Rings.

Work Crossword puzzles again.

Craft

I have decided to let my Etsy Shop go to the wayside. I started listing my baby hats, longies/soakers and fascinators at the peak of their popularity and I don’t like the extra pressure of having the shop stocked.

I will continue to work of my lace knitting techniques. There are some BEAUTIFUL patterns for lace shawls out there and I’d love to try them out. Plus I have some new blocking wires that I can’t wait to use.

 

Let’s see how far I can get on that list this year! What are your goals for 2012?

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Filed under books, challenge, family, finance, ladies, meatless, monday, New Year Goals

Thursday’s Tasty Treat: Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

We had this for dinner Wednesday night. I wish I could say that this was my own personal recipe, but it’s not. It’s from the November issue of Good Housekeeping and it’s from The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. But it’s yummy and fits with with squash theme.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Makes 12 appetizer servings (or 6 meal servings)

2T. unsalted butter
2T olive oil
4c. chopped onions
2T. curry powder
5 lbs. butternut squash
1.5 lbs sweet apples (McIntosh, Gala, etc)
Water
Kosher Salt and Pepper
2c. apple juice or cider
1 loaf french bread (baguette)
Goat Cheese, room temp

Directions:
1. IN a 7-8 Qt. Saucepot, heat butter and oil on medium-low until butter melts and is foamy. Add onions and curry powder; cook 15 minutes or so until onions are tender, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot as needed.

2. While onions cook, peel squash (to aid in peeling, microwave squash for 30 sec or so. Then peel), cut in half, discard seeds. Cut squash into 1 inch chunks. Peel and core apples, cut into 1 inch chunks.

3. To pot, add squash, apples, 2 c water, 2t salt and 1/2t pepper. Heat to boiling on high, reduce to med-low. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes until squash and apples are very soft.

Now at this point you need to puree your mixture. I used a hand immersion blender to do the job. If you don’t have one you can use a food pro or blender and puree in batches and return puree to pot.

4. Add 1c. apple juice or cider and 1t. salt.

5. Serve with crusty bread and goat cheese (optional)

Here are some pics of the girls enjoying the yumminess. I may have to start calling the Dragonfly Cinderella though.
                                             Brigid and soup

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Thursday’s Tasty Treats: Homemade Pedialyte

I had grand plans to share with you a great recipe for Butternut Squash and Apple soup (combining three of my absolute favorite things: Squash, Apples and Soup) plus it would stay with my heretofore established squash theme of the last few weeks, but we all know what happens when we make plans and test the sovereignty of God, right? Yeah, He laughs. Hard.

After her bath last night, The Dragonfly started vomiting. Joy of joys. After 2am, she seemed to settle a bit but this morning, she started again after having a few sips of water. So, hit the internet and google “Vomiting Toddler, No fever, Dr. Sears.” (We don’t get much vomit in our house, obviously.) One of the tips that Dr. Sears’ had was to give Pedialyte, which I knew but I didn’t have any here at home, and DH had already left for the office. So, back to google I went and I found a great recipe on Our Little Monkeys.

I made mine with 1 part Orange Juice and 3 parts water, along with the salt, sugar and baking soda. The resulting mixture is very salty and seems to be not half bad, as I am trying to keep the toddler from chugging the entire cup (because we all know what will happen next, right?) Plus, she seems to be in a state of comfort right now and doesn’t understand why I won’t let her eat everything in sight!

It’s only 830a here and I am already at my limit for annoyance, which is terrible to say, but I feel like I am singlehandedly fighting a battle with a nauseous toddler and a bored preschooler (and then couple that with the guilt of letting them watch *too* much TV and the fact that my house needs a bit of cleaning… especially the floors and bathrooms.) I think I’ll head up for a shower and I am sure after that and I great cup of coffee, I will be my awesome self again! And The Bear and I can tackle the cleaning bit, which could bust her boredom. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers!

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P.S. Please keep Chase and the entire Pottorff family in your prayers today as he is laid to rest this evening.
 

 


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Thursday’s Tasty Treat: Butternut Squash and Beef Chili

Remember last week, I wrote about how much we love our squash? Well… here’s more proof. I threw this together this week, only to find out that it’s actually a pretty popular recipe on-line. Great minds, right? OK here you go:

Butternut Squash and Beef Chili

1 small to medium butternut squash, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 pound stew meat or steak (I used a small New York Strip)
1 can mexican style diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 small jalepeno, seeded and diced
1 pack of chili seasoning (or you can add your own concoction of cumin, chili powder, garlic, salt and pepper.)

Toppings:
shredded cheddar
hot sauce
sliced jalepenos
diced onion

1. Cut your beef into smaller, bite-sized pieces
2. Heat a small bit of oil in a dutch oven or heavy pot, over med-high heat
3. Add meat and onions and cook until meat has lost most of its pink (about 5-7 minutes)
4. Add squash, undrained tomatoes, drained beans, diced jalepeno, seasoning, and one can-ful of water. Cover.
5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until squash is soft, stirring occasionally.
6. Serve with desired toppings.

(You can also make this in the crock pot, just put everything in at once and cook on low 6-8 hours.)

What’s great about this chili is that is a nice spin on a traditional tomato based chili. The squash adds a nice , sweet earthiness and a different texture to the slight spice of the dish. Enjoy!!

And, of course, if you try this out, make sure to stop by and let us know how it turned out!


(since I didn’t take a picture, this is a pic courtesy of Laura Pants on Flickr.)

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Thursday’s Tasty Treat: Baked Acorn Squash

We are huge squash eaters here in the CCM household… butternut, spaghetti, yellow, pumpkin… you name it, we eat it! This recipe is one that my mom made when we were younger. It is such an easy recipe and it is a definitely a kid pleaser.

Baked Acorn Squash

Ingredients:

1 acorn squash
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup butter, divided
pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. With a sharp knife, cut off the bottom of the acorn squash, creating a base.
3. With the same knife, cut the squash in half, length-wise.
4. Scoop out the seeds and fibery strings from each half. (optional: keep the seeds and roast them. yum.)
5. to each half add: 1/8 cup butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar and sprinkle pepper over the top
6. Place on a baking sheet at bake until squash pierces easily with a fork… 35-40 minutes.

To serve:

Scrape the flesh of the squash into the butter/ sugar/ pepper mixture in the cavity and eat!

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Thursday’s Tasty Treats: CrockPot Pork Posole

This recipe was given to me by a friend and it has become a staple in the CCM household. It is so easy to bring together and usually leaves delicious left-overs for lunch the next day!

CrockPot Pork Posole

Need:

6 Qt or larger CrockPot

3-4# boneless pork roast

1 can hominy (white or yellow)

1 can tomatoes with chiles

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 t salt,  1/2 t pepper, 1 t cumin and Sazon de Goya (if you have it. It’s usually found in the Latin Foods aisle. They are little  orange spice packets.)

 

To make:

1. Place roast in crockpot.

2. Add hominy, tomatoes, onion, spices and one can of water (I use the tomato can)

3. Cook on low for 6 hours or so, or until Pork shreds easily with a fork.

4. Shred pork and serve on Corn Tortillas with Salsa and Guac!

 

So easy. So delicious!!

 

<img src="Pork Posole” alt=”” />

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If you try this, be sure to come back and let us know what you think!!


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Until debt us do part

How many of you are aware of this little factoid: A man cannot enter into the priesthood if he has outstanding debts. A woman cannot become a religious sister or nun if she has outstanding debts. Reason being, how will a priest or nun pledge their entire life to loving and serving Christ is they have the burdon of debt on their shoulders?

Now, for those of us who were called to the married life, it’s a completely different story.

Chances are, you did not just marry your spouse, you married their debt as well. Now, we can wax poetic about it all and say, “Well, mine is student loan debt, so that’s good debt.” I’m sorry. Debt is debt, and you have to pay it back. The sad thing is, some of our debts are so high that it can keep us from living the life that we are to live.

Some scenarios to consider:

Case 1: Young couple, just married, both bringing debt to the marriage, decide to wait “until they can afford” to have children. Time passes, incomes increase, but the debt never decreases because with each increase in income came an increase in expenditures. Time goes, Debt grows and the couple decides that children just aren’t in their future because they just can’t afford them.

Case 2: Married, with children, and debt. Debt each brought to the marriage and debt that the married couple amassed together. The Spirit is on their hearts telling them that it’s time for another child, but looking at their bank account really kills the mood. Surrounded by their worldly possessions, they come to the reality that they have neither the space nor the money for an additional child.

Case 3: Mature couple, ready to start thinking about retirement, but still have personal debt to pay off, in addition to sending kids to college. Then, surprise! They’re expecting. Not sure what they are going to do, or how they’re going to afford this baby, they stand at a crossroads…

 

OK, I’ll admit. It’s melodramatic, and I know that some people choose to remain childless, but for those who want children, am I really that far off? I often think of my and DH’s situation and how much more breathing room we would be if we didn’t have my Graduate Student loans (I earned my undergraduate degree on scholarship,) and our personal credit card debt. We are slowly chipping away at our debt, but I can help but feel disheartened so often because it seems like Sisyphus pushing that boulder up the hill just to see it roll back down.

When I was younger, money was always tight and I remember telling myself that I couldn’t wait to be a grown up because then money woudn’t be an issue and I could buy and have whatever I wanted (Don’t ask me where I got that idea.) But looking back, what I should have learned is the difference between wants and needs and the beauty of delayed gratification (I’m still working on that one, paying cash for our splurges does help because you have to save for that purchase, rather than pulling out old Mr. Plastic.) But think about it… the important things in life are things that you have to wait for: the right guy/ girl, marriage, careers promotions, children, grandchildren, etc. Nothing meaningful happens right away.

So, that’s what we’re teaching our girls. The Bear may mention a toy or art set that she is interested in and instead of rushing out and getting it for her right away, it’s either a birthday or Christmas gift. When we have birthday parties for the girls, instead of guests bringing gifts, we have them bring donations (we didn’t do that with The Bear’s 4th because it was just one more thing I forgot.) I don’t know how long we will continue the birthday gift/ donation tradition, and I’ll have to admit, I kind of missed doing it this past weekend, but it’s an easy way to teach the girls about giving back and what the important things in life are.

 
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Sorry if this post sounded kind of random and disjointed. It is a good example of my “stream of consciousness” writing and I am avoiding going back to edit because I am sure these are the words I am supposed to write.

Pax Christi!

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Lenten Meals: Nina’s Black Bean Patties

OK. I know it’s not Friday and technically I owe you two Lenten recipes because I didn’t post one last week but cut me some slack, hey?

This recipe was inspired by my friend, Nina. She made black bean patties for her family one night from a blogger recipe. Her family wasn’t too keen on them, so she brought them to my house to make sure that they tasted OK and that it was just her family and not the actually patties. We loved them. I kept asking her for the recipe and so one Friday, decided to Frankenstein up some black bean patties of my own, based on what she told me was in the ones she made. I did eventally ask Nina for the recipe which you can find here.

Nina’s Black Bean Patties

Ingredients:

1 medium sweet potato, shredded

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 small onion, chopped

1 handful cilantro

1/4 cup walnuts

1 egg

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 T cumin

1 T coriander

2 t cinnamon

1/4 t cayenne pepper

1 t salt

1 t pepper

breadcrumbs (amount will vary, use enough for your patties to hold shape.)

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

2. Add all ingredients, except breadcrumbs, to a food processor with blade attachment. Pulse until a uniform paste develops.

3. Remove bowl from your food pro and transfer paste to another bowl if you’d like (remove the blade.)

4. Slowly add in breadcrumbs until the mixture comes together and can hold a shape.

5. Take a palmful of mixture and pat into a patty shape, about 1/2 inch thick. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture. (mine made about 6 patties)

6. Bake at 350 deg until the tops look dried and a little cracked, about 15 minutes.

7. Top with Mango Salsa or Salsa Verde and serve with a  delicious side of your choice. (I served with a Quinoa Pilaf.)

 

Quinoa Pilaf

1 T EVOO

1/2 c chopped onion

2 carrots, chopped

1 c quinoa, rinsed

2 c veg broth

2/3 c walnuts

1/4 c parsley (or cilantro)

Heat oil in saucepan over med-high heat. Cook onion in oil for until translucent. Add carrot and cook 3 minutes. Add quinoa and veg broth, bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook 15-20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender and fluffy. In a bowl toss together with walnuts and parsley (or cilantro.) Serve hot or at room temp.

 

Mango Salsa

1 mango, peeled and diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1/2 jalepeno, seeded and diced

1 T lime juice

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Add all ingredients to a bowl. Mix well. Cover and chill until use.

 
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It is the season of Lent. I’ll be including the meat-free recipes for your enjoyment and don’t forget, if you have one to share, email it to caffeinatedcatholicmama (at) gmail (dot) com. Include your first name for the props!

Pax Christi!

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Mrs. Hanglow: Or how I learned to stop complaining and finally bought quality

**Disclaimer to my gentleman readers: This is a post about bras and bra shopping. You have been warned.**

Yesterday, for the first time in four years, I went bra shopping and bought a bra that did not have escape hatches. I’d like to say that my motivation for such an endeavor was to look better and feel better about myself, but it wasn’t… well, maybe it was. I am standing up in a wedding next month and I have a great dress to wear and it would be a shame to wear a non-supportive bra with this dress because it would make things just… go… south.

The last time I really went bra shopping, I was not a mother (and certainly not a nursing mother. Just an FYI, I do own nursing bras so technically I have gone bra shopping within the last four years, but you kind of know what I mean…) I used to do all of my shopping at a little store that is known for having lots and lots of Secrets. The biggest secret that I came to find was that most of the consultants there really aren’t that good at bra fittings. Now, I shouldn’t blame the salesgirls, after all, they are only as good as their trainers (hahaha, that could be a pun!) Maybe it’s just the stock offering at this particular store, I don’t know.

I am of the ample chested variety (even without active lobules) and for some reason, most of the bras there are of the “push-up” variety. I am all about lift and separation and for me, having my breasts squished together and placed somewhere under my neck is not the most comfortable. In addition to smooshing together and jamming them under my neck, the bras that were “hand-picked” for me tended to give me the “quad-boob” look. You know what I mean, where the top of the bra cuts diagonally across the flesh of the breast and kind of digs in, making it look like you have four breasts? Lovely, right? So, by the end of my “fitting,” all these years ago, I walk out with a bra I am not 100% in love with and actually kind of hurts me (the underwire would dig into my armpit area. Not fun.) Oh, and did I mention, that it cost me an arm and a leg? Looking back, I really should have said “thanks, but I am not finding anything here,” and walked out, but I was a part of the consumer group that this store heavily markets to and, doggone it, I wanted a bra from there! To me, my other option would have been going to the old-lady department stores and getting fitted there, but who’d want to be seen doing that?!

Fast forward a few years, and I’ve been living in stretchy, comfy nursing bras for a long, long time. The Mister, when we were shopping for this dress for the wedding, even commented how much nicer the dress would look with more… support. OK, OK, I’ll concede, I’ll go shopping. I headed to the mall and avoided she-with-many-secrets and instead swallowed my pride and headed to an old-lady department store for a fitting. (After all, I am over 30 now. Tee Hee!) The saleslady asked my size and I told her a guesstimate and she promptly said, “You are no way in the right size, let’s go measure you.” Oh, was she right. From my guesstimate, actual band size was four inches smaller and the cup was one cup size bigger. (And joy, of joys… I am an “odd” size, so no Target or WalMart bras for me.) I tried on the correct size and, Oh Mercy! The girls were defying gravity!! In that one instant, I looked about ten pounds lighter and I found myself standing with better posture; my shoulders were held back and I didn’t have the hunchback thing going on. Then I looked at the price… and it was no where near what I was expecting and that was a nice surprise!

Let’s take a little break here and talk quality versus quantity or maybe how quality and quantity are related. Many women I know (me included) HATE to spend money on things like bras or shoes or other things that get worn out. Why? Precisely because they are going to get worn out and better to wear out and replace the cheap item than the expensive one, right? Wrong. Remember that you get what you pay for. If you are running out to local discount store every two months to by a new bra at $16 each (which may or may not fit right,) how is that any different than spending $35 on a bra, measured to you and made of better materials, every 6-9 months? Basic fact, cheap items are made of cheap materials and will wear out faster than their more quality made counterparts. Yes, a “specialty” bra (let’s say… for a wedding?) might run you upwards of $70 but for that $70 you are getting a bra that is guaranteed to fit and most importantly stay up and make you look flattering in your dress. How many of us have bought strapless bras off the rack (tee hee, another pun) only to have it fall down the entire night, or dig in to your flesh? I have heard it said that a woman’s wardrobe is only as flattering as the foundation pieces under it and this mama 100% believes that now.

So, I am a proud owner of a new bra and I can’t wait to get some more. I would like to see if I can find at least one nursing bra in my “new” size because I am loving this new figure I am sporting. And if you’ve read this far… enjoy your cookie.
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Do you have any bra-shopping horror stories? Or even bra horror stories? Do share!!

Pax Christi!

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Lenten Meals: White Bean Pita Pockets

Today is the Feast of The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. Since this is a day of celebration, the Bishop has given the OK for us here in STL to partake in meat if we want as a day of celebration is not one for fasting and abstinance. (I am sure other Archdioceses have done the same but you might want to check.)

Today’s recipe is meatless and comes from the April 2011 issue of Cooking Light. I made this last night and it was muy delicioso!! If you have a well-stocked pantry, you may not have to shop for much.

Southwestern White Bean Pita Pockets

1.5 T lime juice, divided
4 t EVOO, divided
0.5 t ground cumin
0.25 t salt, divided
0.25 t ground red pepper (I used cayenne)
2 15 ounce cans of white beans, rinsed, drained and divided
0.5 c diced plum tomato (I used roma)
0.25 cup diced red bell pepper
0.25 cup diced, seeded, peeled cucumber
3 T diced red onion
1 T chopped fresh cilantro
1 small jalepeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 pitas, cut in half
4 boston lettuce leaves
0.25 cup crumbled queso fresco (I omitted this totally)
4 lime wedges

1. Combine 1 T lime juice, 2 t oil, cumin, 1/8 t salt, red pepper, and 1 cup beans in a food processor; process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed.

2. Place remaining 1.5 t lime juice, remaining 2 t olive oil, remaining 1/8 t salt, remaining beans, tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno in a bowl; toss to combine.

3. Spread about 3.5 T processed bean mixture inside each pita half. Place 1 lettuce leaf, about 3/4 cup tomato mixture, and 2 T cheese inside each pita half. Serve with lime wedges. Makes 4 servings.

(I actually found it to be tastier to omit the pita totally, and spread the processed beans on the lettuce and top with the tomato mix and roll it all up to munch.)

I paired this with couscous last night and it was quite the hit here. Hope you enjoy!!

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It is the season of Lent. I’ll be including the meat-free recipes for your enjoyment and don’t forget, if you have one to share, email it to caffeinatedcatholicmama (at) gmail (dot) com. Include your first name for the props!

Pax Christi!

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