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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Thank you to two nice blogs! Don't forget to vote!

We just wanted to send a big Thank you out to I heart Naptime and Somewhat Simple for the opportunities for free advertising!

You will see our button the month of January at


Then in December 2011, we have free advertising at

somewhat simple button

Thank you so much ladies!  Please visit these blogs as they are fantastic!

Also, don't forget to vote for our blog. We are moving up in popularity quickly. You can vote once each day! Just click on the button below and it automatically votes for us!

Thank you to all who are helping our blog get noticed. We really appreciate it!

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Menu Planning: Making the most of your cookbooks

The next step in your Menu Planning process is to make the most of your cookbooks.  I love cookbooks.  I have WAY too many.  I also love cooking magazines like Taste of Home, Simple and Delicious and Cook's Country.  These are fabulous for new recipes.

Don't have many cookbooks to choose from?  Utilize your local library!  I search their catalog and request cookbooks frequently.  Then I look through them and write down recipes I would like to try.  Cookbooks can be expensive and the library is free!

Cookbooks are a waste unless you are properly utilizing them!  Let me share with you how I make the most of my cookbooks.

1.  Grab a cookbook and some post-it notes.  I like using the longer post-it notes that are lined.
Here is the cookbook that I am using as an example, it is a great one for Southern Cooks.

2.  Now take a few minutes and go through the cookbook.  You don't need to linger on recipes, just browse each page.  Write down the page number and the name of a recipe you would like to try.
3.  Once you have a page filled, put the post-it note on the inside cover of your cookbook.
4.  Go through the entire cookbook and make a listing of all the recipes you would like to try.  Here is a picture of all my post-its.  This was a large cookbook so I had many recipes I wanted to try.  There are about 3-4 post-it pages on each of the front pages of this cookbook.
5.  When you are ready to try some new recipes, you can flip quickly through your post-it notes versus the entire cookbook.
6.  I highlight recipes I have tried and put a note beside them whether it was good, great or a keeper.  If I especially liked it (a keeper), I add it to my recipe files.  If I didn't like the recipe, I mark it out and I know not to try it again.

This process can take some time, but if you sit down and do a couple of cookbooks at a time or one a day, you can easily have all your cookbooks organized and ready to use!  While you are catching up on shows, grab a cookbook and make the most of your time.

I have three challenges for you:
  • If you haven't already done so, make a food inventory.  See my post on this:  Menu Planning: Setting up a Food Inventory
  • Go through your cookbooks and follow the process above.
  • Take one cookbook and make some new meals out of it for the next month (or two, depending on the size of the cookbook).  You will enjoy the new meals and so will your family.  I am taking this challenge as well!
Tomorrow, I will share Menu Planning:  Organizing your menu.

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Menu Planning: Setting up a Food Inventory

It's a new year and time to get your budgeting skills a fresh start. In the coming days and weeks, I will share with you how I make the most of our family's money through some simple techniques.

I'm a stay-at-home Mom of 3 kids and I am also married to a Youth Minister.  I must know how to budget or we would be in BIG trouble.  When anyone says that they couldn't possibly afford to stay home with their kids, I remind them what little we live on.  It's possible, but it requires sacrifice and lots of planning.

One of the easiest ways to save money and meet a tight budget is by planning your meals. There are many meal planning services out there. I have done one, but I wasn't impressed with the recipes.  If you plan your meals yourself, you will make meals your family likes and not have wasteful spending. I have some helpful tips to get you started on your way to easy Menu Planning.

Before you think of menu planning and your food budget, you need to take stock of what food items you have in the house. I call this my Food Inventory.

Setting up a Food Inventory
1.  Grab a piece of paper and head to your pantry.  This is a great time to reorganize if you need to.  I don't have a pantry closet, but just two free standing pantries.  I start listing all that I have in my pantry shelf by shelf.  Yes, this is tedious, but it will save you money by not purchasing items you already have in stock.

I am a computer person, so I have my Food Inventory on my stickies on my Mac.  Here is a picture of command central.
Here is a close up of what I list:
I do this for every shelf.
2.  Move to your refrigerator.  List all the essential ingredients you have on hand.  You don't need to list items you always keep in stock such as milk, eggs, butter, ketchup, mayo (unless you need to pick these up).  List the items that you can use up in recipes, such as, green peppers, celery, green onions, carrots, etc.
3.  Now go to your freezer.  List everything you have in your freezer.  I list all the vegetables I have, the quantities of each meat.  Side note:  I use a Food Saver (best thing ever) and buy my meats in bulk.  Therefore I list that I have 5 chicken or 6 ground beef.
4.  If you have a deep freezer, an additional refrigerator or other food storage area, list all your food items in each of those.
5.  I put my list on my stickies so that I can delete weekly or easily add items that I bring home for the store.  If you don't have stickies, you could put your list in a word document. 
6.  Each month or every two months, depending on how well I have kept up with my storage, I go back and update my Food Inventory by going through this process again.

Now you have your first task to complete.  Go take a Food Inventory of everything you have on hand.  Next we will make the most of your cookbooks!

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When Craft Projects Fail...

I don't know about you, but when I try something new, I don't always get it perfect on the first time.  Crafting is never perfect!  If you are perfectionist, you need to relax and just try something new.  (From one perfectionist to another).  Be ready to fail at something you make.  Some of my biggest craft failures have turned into projects I liked even better.

You might be wondering why I am posting on failing at a project.  Well, I have been experimenting with some new patterns for cloches.  I needed to make one for one of our giveaway winners and the size was larger than I've been making.

I was using a different yarn than was suggested (should have been my first hint) and the appropriate crochet needle for that yarn (second mistake).

On my first attempt, I ended up with a preemie hat.  I don't think this will fit a 2 year old.  Check it out (sorry for the scary baby!)

My second attempt was just slightly bigger, but now we are just at newborn size.

I tried once more before scrapping the pattern and trying something different.  This time I used a larger needle and made some small tweaks to the pattern.  I was very pleased with the final product.  I didn't try it on the baby as it would be too large.  I also didn't try it on my 2 year old boy as his Daddy would have been really mad at me!  I will use him to model something else!

I hope our winner (Andrea S) is pleased with her cloche for her daughter! 

Please learn from and with me, try a new craft this year!  If you fail, try again or make some changes to make it better.  If you keep failing, email us, we will be happy to help!

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