Saturday, July 30, 2011

Swiss chard

I'm terribly behind on posting my garden updates. Here was a harvest of Swiss chard from May.
And another from June. At first, I was harvesting the whole plant. Then I wised up and just harvested the outer leaves. Good thing because none of the seeds I planted later sprouted. So I've been harvesting from just three plants.
Usually, I just stir fry it, but I've tried a few recipes. I tried a gratin; that was just okay. Then I made some egg tarts. Recipe to come later.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Big Lots alert!

Mr. Fix-it asked if I wanted to make a trip to Big Lots. Silly guy, of course! Did you know that Big Lots now sells produce? They had giant red bell peppers 2/$1. They were on their way out, but if you were going to cook them in the next day or two, they would be worth it. All the produce looked better than what's at the 99 cents store. (Is my cheapness starting to show?)

But that's not the alert. At my local store, they moved the scrapbooking section to the other side of the store, but thankfully (or maybe not so thankfully), it is now one full aisle instead of being just one side of an aisle. There was a huge amount of Colorbök albums, lots of grab bags, some new (new to Big Lots that is) American Crafts embellishments, and lots of stamps. Most were the small stamps from Studio G (and overpriced at $2), but there were also quite a few Inkadinkado stamps, which retail for $9.99. I'm not really a stamper, but I couldn't resist. And I loved the colors of the buttons, only $1/package.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The budget crisis

I'm not talking about the state budget crisis (which is bad) or the federal budget crisis (which is worse), but my own budget crisis. I'm actually thinking about making a budget. Can you believe it? Me? Ms. Is-on-sale, Ms. Is-there-a-coupon-for-it? Yes, me.

I came to this awakening because I can't figure out any other way to bring our spending in line with our income. We're not irresponsible or in debt or need to dip into savings every month, but there isn't anything extra. Plus, I'd like to budget in some fun, like a vacation. Maybe if we have a budget, I wouldn't stress when we go out or splurge on something. Our expenses have gone up quite a bit the last few years, but our income has gone down. Not a good combination. Plus we've got some big expenses coming up the coming months so I'm feeling the pinch even more. Unfortunately, I have no control over most of the increased expenses. Health insurance continues to rise as much as 20% a year, but I have the most cost effective plan at work. I have some family obligations that are taking a bigger bite than I expected. Food and gas prices continue to rise. I feel like we're living paycheck to paycheck, even though I'm sure we're doing better than most of America.

Hopefully, I can come up with some money-saving ideas (that don't include not buying scrapbook supplies) or rework where our money goes so I'm less stressed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mexican lasagna

Also known as clean-out-the-fridge lasagna, lol. Had some refried beans (homemade), cheese, and sour cream to use up so I made one of my old standbys, Mexican lasagna. This is much easier than enchiladas and I think a little more forgiving. I don't really have a recipe, but here's what the layers were this time (from bottom to top, since that's how it is built):

corn tortillas
refried beans + a little chopped green onion + a little cheese
corn tortillas
cooked chicken + a little sour cream + green salsa
corn tortillas
refried beans + a little chopped green onion + a little cheese
corn tortillas
cooked chicken + a little sour cream + green salsa
corn tortillas
salsa, cheese, chopped olives

I just dropped all the ingredients onto the corn tortillas in dribs and drabs, they weren't solid layers. Also, I poured about 1/4 cup of water over top layer of corn tortillas before adding the last layer of salsa, cheese, and chopped olives. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Sometimes I add some frozen corn, sometimes I use regular salsa, sometimes I add some tomato sauce, sometimes I add green chilies. Obviously, it never turns out the same, lol.

All right, all right, I know some of you want measurements. Honestly, I never measure anything when I make this. But I do know I used one 16 oz jar of salsa, about 1/3 of a 16 oz container of sour cream (that's all that was left), about 1 cup of shredded cheese, and a sandwich baggie of shredded chicken (from my recent cooking marathon), and used a 2 qt. casserole dish. Does that help?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My cooking marathon

I decided to spend a recent day off doing a cooking marathon so it wasn't really a vacation day. The good news is I had enough food to last a few days and to share. The bad news is my freezer is overstuffed. (Someday, I'm going to spring for an extra freezer.)

Chicken and turkey stock, plus the meat I picked off the bones. Yes, that's a layer of fat you see on top. I leave it on until I'm going to use the stock, then I decide how much to keep/discard.
Soup (there was more, but I had given some away already), cooked chicken (there were three packages), winter melon (again, I gave away half), and marinated chicken. I figured on some night when I didn't know what to cook, I could pull out the chicken and do a quick stir fry.

The winter melon is from my mom. She gave it to me last year and I finally decided to cut it up (yes, they really do last for months). It was stored in the garage. I didn't end up cooking any since I made the other soup. If anyone wants some seeds, let me know.
Last, but not least, a container of washed and chopped salad greens and another of washed Swiss chard. Cleaning the veggies on the weekends makes it so much easier to eat healthy during the week.
I was exhausted, but pleased with the day's work. Like I said, the only bad thing is my freezer is overstuffed. It is ice cream season and there's no room for any.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Too full

I feel like everything in my life is full and not in a good way. Work days are waaay too full. My camera's memory card is full (and I'm behind on blogging). My computer's hard drive is too full and isn't running efficiently. The only thing that isn't full is my wallet.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Five on Friday

  1. I got a great deal on a plane ticket to see the folks. Unfortunately, I have to come home Saturday instead of Sunday; otherwise the fare would have been $79 more. Also unfortunately, the car rental will be more than the airfare. Hopefully, prices will come down before the end of the month.
  2. Work is still crazy busy. I don't see it slowing down any time soon.
  3. I'm actually missing scrapbooking. Maybe I'll get back to it someday.
  4. I'm thankful for a 4-day weekend. Yep, I'm taking an extra day off.
  5. I'm considering changing the name of my blog and maybe the focus. Stay tuned.
Five on Friday is a random collection of thoughts for the week. I usually post a Five on Friday (or Six on Saturday) when I haven't blogged during the week. Feel free to post your own thoughts below or on your own blog and link back here.