Sunday, September 29, 2013

For the Soul Sundays

Photo: Prayer is the passport to peace.

From LDS Women. Check out and like them for more uplifting LDS memes!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Frugal Friday #2

What do you do to save money on meals? To make the most out of our grocery budget, I sometimes plan two meals out of one ingredient. For example, sometimes I do chicken cacciatore on the crockpot for dinner and the following evening I simply cook out the sauce to reduce it and warm up the chicken and add a little taco seasoning to make flavorful fajitas. Well, today I want to show you two of these meals out of one of our family's favorites, chicken. I went to the store and bought a whole skinless chicken (less than $6). I planned to do chicken noodle soup and homemade bread for one night and chicken tacos for the next night. Since I already had onions for the soup, I knew I could also use some sauteed onions for the tacos.
Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 1 whole skinless chicken
  • 3 quarts of water
  • 3 carrots, plus more for stock
  • 3 sticks of celery, plus more for stock
  • 2 onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic, whole
  • Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 bullion cubes
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • pasta of your choice
  • fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
First, put water on pot. Add 2 sticks of celery in chunks, garlic cloves (whole),  2 peeled carrots (whole) and one peeled onion in half. You do not need to cut them in smaller pieces, you will be throwing this after the stock is done, it is only for flavor. Add italian seasoning to your taste, I added about a teaspoon, then salt and pepper. I then added the whole chicken and the cubes. I let the chicken cook for about 35 to 40 minutes on medium heat.Another flavorful tip is to use the rind of a block of parmesan cheese to flavor the stock.

After the stock is done remove the veggies and the chicken. Let the chicken cool before you shred it. You can also cube it but we like big chunks of chicken in our soup.
 When the chicken has cooled enough you can shred it. Then cut the veggies. We like onion, potatoes, carrots and celery. Warm up the broth again and cook the veggies. Then add the noodles. My kids chose spaghetti noodles that day but we usually use egg noodles, and they like LOTS of noodles on their soup. Finally add the chicken and warm up (remember to save some chicken for the following day!). Serve with some artisan bread.

Dinner #2: Chicken Tacos and Salad

  • Chicken
  • tortillas
  • avocado
  • onion
  • taco seasoning
  • cup of salsa
  • shredded cheese
  • tomato
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
You probably have all of these ingredients in your pantry, so it this is a meal easy to plan!
Warm up shredded chicken with a cup of salsa and some taco seasoning. In another pan, saute an onion. Warm up the tortillas and assemble taco, pretty much self explanatory. We like to make guacamole using lemon juice, salt and pepper. My husband also adds sour cream but I am not a fan of it. Our tacos had chicken, tomato, cheese, sauteed onion, cilantro (from our garden) and guacamole. Add a salad and you have a meal (Saving tip: do not buy bagged salad, we usually buy Romaine lettuce and it lasts us for a couple of meals and even lunches, and we add leftover carrots. If you do not have enough leftover chicken, you can add refried beans or canned beans)
What do you do to save money on meals? Do you have any tips you would like to share?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Herbs in The Kitchen

In my dreams, my kitchen has a big window in which I can display my kids gifts for Mother's day, decorations and my cooking herbs. Here is an absolute dream...

                         Deep Windowsill

Hey, if we are gonna dream, let's dream BIG!
 Since my kitchen window is so little, I have to get creative. I can still decorate with plants. I love the touch they give to a room. In the kitchen, I can decorate with herbs and have them in hand for whenever I need them AND I can have them all year round. In my garden I have rosemary, thyme, cilantro and parsley, the herbs that we use the most. I also planted basil but it died ;-( so I have to go to Walmart and get some for my kitchen. Honestly, having this herbs in your kitchen will also make it smell so good! I personally adore the smell of rosemary, and it tastes so yummy on roasted potatoes! Why buy dried if you can have them fresh?
I found a sale on terracotta planters for .79 cents each. I knew EXACTLY what I would do with them! After a love hug from Annie Sloan chalk paint and some silhouette decals, they would be transformed...
They started like this:
I applied two coats of chalk paint in ultra white. After they dried I sanded out the edges using fine grit sandpaper.

I cut the numbers using my Silhouette Portrait and vinyl.

Then I applied a coat of wax to seal it. Ta da! I have my favorite herbs on hand (basil missing) for whenever I need them plus the kitchen smells divine!

Do you like to have fresh herbs in the kitchen? Let me know in the comments section. Stay two days...Frugal Friday #2 is coming!
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

"Poppy Seed" Chicken

Today I would like to share with you a recipe my family loves. This recipe can be done in advance, or even use with leftover grilled or rotisserie chicken. And what makes it even better, all the ingredients for it are everyday pantry items. It is called "Poppy Seed Chicken." The reason that I included "quote unquote" is because in our recipe we actually omit the poppy sons do not like them. But it is still quite tasty, and we still call it poppy seed chicken even though it should be called "chicken casserole."

  • 1 package of Ritz crackers
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1  cup of light sour cream (if you want it creamier, I use plain yogurt (about 1/2 a cup), I do not like it too sour)
  • 4-5 chicken breasts, cooked
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • 1/4 butter melted
  • chicken stock
  • poppy seeds, optional
  • Jasmine rice
Pretty much self explanatory:
  1. Cook the chicken in the stock, let cool.
  2. Mix the sour cream, the yogurt, the soup and seeds
  3. Cube the chicken and add it to the soup mixture
  4. Put mixture in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish
  5. Crush the Ritz crackers (I put them in food processor) and sprinkle over dish
  6. Pour melted butter on top. Meanwhile, start cooking the rice.
  7. Bake @ 350 35 to 40 minutes.
  Here out of the oven:

 Serve over rice. The pepper kinda looks like poppy seeds!

Try it it is delish! Practical, economical and fast to make. Perfect meal for a busy family.

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The 36th Avenue

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Frugal Friday

We know for sure that if we are prepared we have nothing to fear. In these hard financial times, we know sometimes preparation takes a little bit (or a whole lot) of sacrifice. The Church I attend to promotes preparedness in several ways. We are encouraged to live within our means, to save for a rainy day, to have a food storage system and emergency kits and to be prepared physically by doing our best in keeping good healthy habits as well as spiritually, by seeking after all those things that are inspiring and makes us better people. I know doing all these things sound great, but in the tough times we are living it can be a little demanding to do if we are not organized. I decided to dedicate a couple of Fridays a month to these new posts labeled "Frugal Fridays."

 I will be writing about different ways we accomplish different goals of preparedness: from saving money to creating a food storage system, to decorating on a budget, to saving on groceries. Since I do all of these things on a daily basis, I would love to share with you what I do to live within our means without sacrificing fun. It will not go in any order. Today I will like to show you how I save on clothes. I am pretty sure a lot of you do this too. 
In my Goodwill there is a Friday of the month (usually the last) that all the clothes are $1.23...amazing deal. They open at 9 am and they usually have a line of people waiting outside. I have a budget for what I am willing to spend there, even if the clothes are really cheap I can get over excited and spend more than I should. I usually have a list of things I am really looking for, especially clothes for the kids. In my last trip I was looking for clothes for me (I only buy tops, sweaters and t-shirts but I never buy jeans, those I can get for cheap at Old Navy with coupons) and I was especially looking for dressy pants and shirts for the boys. My budget was 60 dollars maximum, but when I shop I NEVER surpass my budget, I always spend less.
Here is what I got, lots of goodies!

 I do not know if you can see but I could find dressy pants for my boys, shirts and even pajama pants, jeans shorts and t-shirts. For my daughter I got jeans, shorts and a couple of long sleeve shirts for fall. For my husband I got two t shirts and a shirt.
I did not have to sacrifice brands either. Here is a perfect jacket for Fall, in perfect condition and it is from American Eagle.

I got cute t-shirts and shirts for me, a couple of sweaters and a cardigan. And there you can also see a pair of shoes for my son that were $1.99 and had Batman on them! He loved them!

Some other brands were Gap, Mossimo, Old Navy, Dockers and Hollister. Not bad. Good quality, gentle
used clothes for only $1.23 each!

I know you are dying to know how much I of $44 dollars for all these clothes. If you have this at your local Goodwill give it a try! Have a budget for what you can spend monthly in clothes for your family. This will save you tons of money if you don't mind wearing used clothes...I don't. With jeans I am a little more picky because I want them to fit nice. But I can tell you that I have NEVER bought a pair of jeans and paid full price. The Target 50 and 70% off clothing are a great way to save money too. I have bought pants there for 8 dollars. If you have any other ideas to save money on clothes or shopping, I would love to hear them! If you would like to be featured on Frugal Fridays with your ideas send me an e-mail (on the right sidebar). Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Little Lamp Makeover

I have had this little lamp on top of our piano for quite a long time. The lamp that was on my daughter's nightstand broke and she needed a new one. We love having this lamp on her nightstand because at night we read stories in bed and use it. My princess is all girly and she absolutely loves pink, pink everything! I took one of the lamps on top of the piano and decided to do a makeover. The lamp itself is from Walmart and very inexpensive. I bought a self adhesive lamp shade a Hobby Lobby (with discount coupon, of course), and had in mind using ribbon and flowers.
First, I cut a piece of fabric to glue to the shade. I had some left over from some Target curtains, this was very easy using the hot glue gun. 
Before, it looked like this:

After I glued the fabric:

I found this cute fabric flowers on Hobby Lobby

Hot glued some ribbon on the edges and on the inside.

Then I cut and glued polka dot ribbon in the center.

Added the flower and ta da! "New" lamp for my princess bedroom! She loved it!

I really have to update that friend Sarah took it when my princess turned 1...She is almost 3!!!

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Family Room Makeover: The Floor

Wow! It has been busy in here! We have been working hard in this makeover plus other projects...Please tell me I am not the only one with project ADD! I have not finished one project when I start with another!
Today I will share what we have done with the family room. The carpet in this room was absolutely ugly. It was old, too. It had a ginormous stain in the middle of the room that despite my biggest efforts it would NOT come off. And if you're wondering...YES! I tried every single Pinterest carpet cleaning recipe there is with no luck.So hubby ripped out all of the carpet and padding (it was a PAIN!). We cleaned the floor really well and cover the floor with the underlayment. Then he began installing the laminate floor. Here are some pictures:

 Yesssssssss!! we are getting rid of this carpet!!

 Ripping all of the nails from the floor was NOT fun...

This carpet weighed like a million pounds...

The kids were excited to work.

Installing the underlayment.

Always start with a corner.

 Yay! All done with the floor! Family room reveal coming soon!

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