Monday, January 27, 2014

A Few $ Saving Tips

Yeah, so.. Bean Week turned into Beans For Two Days. ha.
We got sick of them.

My husband gave me $400 cash for groceries this month. My goal is to have at least $100 left over.
I've found that I spend less $$ when I have cash. That helps.
I bought three whole chickens. I froze two immediately, and cooked one. We canned the broth, and cut up the chicken, then froze it. I'll have chicken pieces, and free broth.
We eat leftovers for lunch, and lots of rice. Although we eat brown rice, I shop around for the best price per pound. We also eat a lot of quinoa, but I had that in stock, so that doesn't count. Quinoa has a lot of protein in it. It is excellent for my big eater.
We have a gluten-free boy and a dairy-free boy, so we have to spend extra for those specialty items.
We also have two deer in the freezer. It's in different forms: ground, stews, steak.. so we don't buy beef.
I meal plan. I try my hardest to stick to it. I plan my meals and make my shopping list after I've checked my pantry.
If we need anything extra in between shopping trips, we get it from Aldi.
Oh, I shop at Aldi first. Then Trader Joe's. Then Wegmans. Wegmans is awesome! It's a regional store. Anyways, cheapest first.

Those are just a few tips that I've been implementing this month for my shopping trips. I'll let you know how my spending went when this month it finished.

Yummy Taco Soup

Mmmm... This was great.
I measured out my soaked beans from earlier, piled in the rest of the ingredients, cooked it for a little while, and voila!
Every one of us loved it! My skinny, 5th percentile-in-weight, 11-month old boy had two bowls! Two. This kid eats more than me. I don't know why he's still so skinny. Anyways....

The first time we had this, I prepared it as a freezer meal. No matter which way you prepare it, it's just all thrown together. My kind of cookin'.

  • 2 lbs. cooked ground meat - I actually only use about a pound. I use venison.
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 can of pinto beans
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of small red beans - I soaked all my own beans for this and measured out about 6-5 cups worth
  • 2 cups fresh/frozen corn
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 16 oz. tomato sauce
  • 7 tsp. (or one packet) homemade taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. minced onion
  • 2 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
I put it all into a pot on the stove over medium heat until it was all cooked. Once it's cooked, set the heat lower until you're ready for dinner! It's okay to leave it on for an hour or two. It's meant for a crockpot recipe if you start it earlier. If you use your crockpot, set it on high for 3-5 hours. If you want to freeze it, just cook it after you thaw it. 
Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and any other fun condiments you like! 
Warning: It's really filling.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The {Best} Chili {Ever}

In my husband's words, "This is the best chili I can remember ever tasting!"
He decided the beans helped it taste so good. 

I like not measuring while I'm cooking, but I guess it doesn't help when I try sharing the recipe. 
2-3 cups of soaked beans
1 lb ground meat. {again, we used venison}
1 cup frozen corn
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 tsp each:
minced onion, garlic powder, chili powder, salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Mushrooms are optional. My husband loves them. I just pick mine out and add them to his bowl. 

Add all ingredients into slow cooker and cook on low for about 4 hours. 

Again, I'm never strict about those measurements. I just usually throw them in there. 
Yesterday I had my two-year-old helper. i just gave him an almost empty salt shaker and a spoon to stir. He was happy as a clam. 
Top with cheese if desired. 

Chili marked the beginning of BEAN WEEK. {Woo hoo!}
Tonight we're having hay stacks. Left over chili with nachos, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and whatever else sounds good. 
Our systems will definitely be cleaned out after this week!

We're attempting this bean week because beans are cheap and healthy. If this works out, I'd like to try this every month. Hopefully I can come up with more "bean" meals. I suppose that's what Pinterest is for!

Happy Beans!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

January Meal Plan

Maybe I like to make things difficult.
I don't know.
But I like to plan my meals a whole month at a time.
At first it takes a while to get started on it.
Then, before I know it, I'm taking meals off because I thought of a better meal.

L likes yogurt every morning for breakfast. Every. Single. Morning. R likes applesauce. Breakfasts are easy peasy. Lunches are usually leftovers, sandwiches, or something else creative. {*cough, ramen noodles*}
Dinners are the hard part. My husband is picky and doesn't like too much of the same food too often. Sundays I like to use my crock pot.
In case anyone is looking for ideas, I thought I'd post my rough draft:

  1. {New Year Day} Pizza
  2. Something not planned out :P
  3. Crock pot lasagna
  4. Enchiladas
  5. Apple cinnamon pork loins {Frozen last month}
  6. Venison stew over rice
  7. Taco soup
  8. {Lost my list, and can't remember what we ate} 
  9. Cheesy crock pot chicken over rice
  10. {Birthday party-pizza}
  11. Hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes
  12. Crock pot lasagna
  13. Chili *BEAN WEEK*
  14. Chili haystacks
  15. Bean burritos
  16. Chili pizza
  17. Mexican lasagna
  18. Venison stew
  19. Cheesy crock pot chicken over rice
  20. Corned Beef - Husband's favorite meal for his birthday
  21. Leftovers
  22. Italian cheesy chicken casserole
  23. Hamburger gravy over rice
  24. {Out of town}
  25. {Out of town}
  26. Creamy chicken
  27. Enchiladas
  28. Goulash
  29. Chicken spaghetti
  30. Leftovers
  31. Balsamic chicken over rice {Frozen last month}
Meals in bold indicate crock pot used. I use my crock pot a lot. I have a few of them. In fact, I don't even know how many for sure. :) 
Some of these recipes are are posted. Some will be posted. Stay tuned. :P

Hamburger Gravy Over Mashed Potatoes

So I had a whole month's worth of meals planned out. 
Then, in typical Gabi fashion, I lost it a few days ago. ;)
Luckily I found it today. 
 Tonight I made hamburger gravy over potatoes. Yum!
I think I made this once or twice  few years ago. I couldn't remember exactly how to make it, and didn't have a recipe written anywhere. 
I just kind of had to wing it. 
I had a little helper who needed his own spoon. He actually does a good job.
First off, I browned my ground venison. Now, my husband has told me many times that when you use venison, it needs to be seasoned well.
I added some garlic powder, minced onion, salt, pepper, and some basil for the fun of it. 
I only had unsweetened coconut milk, sweetened almond, and vanilla almond milk. So, my choice of milk was obvious. {I used the coconut milk.} - add about a cup, maybe another 1/2 if it looks like it needs it.
I mixed a good amount, about 1 1/2 tablespoons, of rice flour in about 2 tablespoons of warm/hot water, and stirred it into my mixture. 
It was brought to a boil, and simmered for about 5 minutes, until it thickened.
Serve over mashed potatoes. 
Depending on how you prepare your mashed potatoes, this could be dairy-free. 

This was my 2-year old's bowl. He didn't finish it, by the way. My 11-month old ate more than this. :P
This is a great "cheap" meal. I didn't have to buy anything for this meal. Everything was on hand. I love those kinds of meals. It tasted great, too. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Yummo Cheesy Crockpot Chicken

Mmmm.... This is my favorite meal! I'm getting a little excited just typing about it.
This is so easy and so yummy. Also, it's gluten-free.

1-2 chicken breasts
1 cup chicken broth
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
dash of cayenne
1 cup of shredded colby jack cheese

Add all ingredients together except shredded cheese in a crockpot on low for 6 hours.
After chicken has cooked through, shred, and add cheese. Cook for one more hour.
Serve over rice.

Now here's how I make it:
First off, double the recipe because this is amazing, and I want left overs.
Add all ingredients together except cheese in a crockpot on low, unless I started it late. Then set it to high.
After chicken is cooked through, usually less than 6 hours, shred, and add cheese. Oh, and I don't use colby jack. I just use cheddar.
I usually start it too late. :) Whoops...
I didn't shred the chicken this time.. I just cut it because I was that lazy...

This meal is just so yummy, I'm starting to drool. It's perfect for busy days. My picky two-year-old will even eat it without nagging. Not that I nag... Ha. It's my favorite for Sunday afternoons.
Happy eating!

Creative K Kids

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How I Get My Baby to Use the Potty

Yes, my 11 month old uses the potty.
Not just occasionally.
Now, when I say "use the potty" I mean pooping. I can't quite catch all the pee.
The poop is easier.

When R was about seven months old I started recognizing when he was pooping. I mean, he wasn't very discreet about it if ya know what I mean... So as soon as I noticed his "poop face" I'd run him to the potty. As I was on my way I'd start undressing him.
The first two times I caught him, he had started going in his diaper but all that quick commotion and running had caused him to stop what he was doing. I'd set him on the potty seat and, of course, when they're that little they don't really want to sit on the big seat with the hole. I knew he had to go, so I waited until he was ready to finish. Once he can't hold it anymore he'd stop fidgeting and go. He did that twice.

The third day, when I noticed him, I jumped up, ran him to the potty like the previous two days. This time I got a surprise when I took his diaper off. He hadn't gone yet! Yay! I caught it! As soon as I set him down he let it all go! Yes, my baby just told me he had to go potty!

His way of telling me he has to go is by acting like he is, but not. I know he is trying not to actually go because he will look at me while doing it. He will try his hardest to hold it in.

This is not for everybody. You have to pay close attention. Every day. It is a lot of work.

I do it because I'm too lazy. I really, really don't like changing poopy diapers. I still have to deal with the wet ones, but it's a whole lot less gross than the smelly ones.

Does he still poop in his diapers? Yes. Occasionally I'll not be in the room, or not paying attention, or he'll need to go at night. It's okay. I just think every time he goes on the potty, "That's one less poopy diaper." But I catch most of them. And that is wonderful.

Every baby is different and will give different cues.

Go ahead, try it. When I take him potty at someone's house they usually ask to watch. :) They're usually quite impressed. And he's a little guy so it's really cute. {I know, watching someone use the toilet is hard to be cute. But he is}

Creative K Kids

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Soaking your Beans

This is my first time buying dry beans. 
It's cheaper.
And I'm all about that.
"Canned beans are cheap enough, why bother?"
Because when you're seriously trying to save money, every little bit helps.
It's actually really easy. Put your beans in a big ol' pot, cover them with water, swish it around, drain, cover them with water again, and bring them to a boil. Bring the temperature down, and check on them every half hour or so. The water evaporates, so you have to keep adding water. Once they get soft {like the canned kind} drain them and rinse. 
Mine are still in the strainer, cooling.
I put a bag {16 oz. each} of pinto, black and small red beans. 
So.... yeah, it made a lot. 
I thought I was being all smart.
I'm having taco soup for dinner tonight. {recipe to follow}
The recipe calls for one 15.5 oz can of each of the beans.
so I got out my measuring cup and measured about 15.5 oz, and put it in the pot. 
There wasn't much left in the bags, so I just threw all the beans in, and I figured I'd freeze the leftovers. 
Anyways, I put it on the stove, but by the time I brought it to a boil, the beans had definitely grown. I added more water, because it had all evaporated already. 
My pot was almost filled to the brim, and I didn't want to make a huge mess, so I had to switch to my largest pot to avoid catastrophe. 
I said all that just to say... start out with a much bigger pot than you think. 
Also, 15.5 oz of dry beans is way different than cooked beans. Measure after cooking them :)

*Edit: My husband told me the beans tasted better than they usually do! See? It's not just cheaper!

Monday, January 6, 2014

When You Don't Feel Like Being Productive

What do you do when you don't feel like doing anything at all?
I have only one thing I require of myself every. single. day. No matter what.
When I'm not getting much else done, I really try to get at least some things done.
These are the things most important to me.

My main chore I make sure I do every day is make my bed.

Especially after having a new baby, because that's usually the only thing that gets done.

Of course, my children's needs come first.
At nap time, I re-assess my priorities....
{cleaning..... or resting....hmmmm.....}
For those days I choose to rest, {more often than not} here are the things I try to get done at least once a day:

  • empty my sink - Any mother will tell you this is a beautiful sight, an empty sink. :) It makes me want to smile. It most definitely won't stay this way {unless we leave the house immediately after!} but if I do the dishes at least once, I know I've accomplished something.
  • clean up all the toys - I just cleaned up all the toys and already there are treasures on my trunk, here. Again, as long as it gets done once in the day, I don't feel as lazy.

  • take a shower - For obvious reasons. ;)
  • drink 3 full glasses of water - Like I've said before, I don't drink enough water. I'm trying to drink at least one full glass of water sometime before each meal. I try not to eat until I've finished one. But, that's only happened like three times last week. 
  • sweep my floor - I only used to do this like once a month, lol. But ever since I got my Norwex wet/dry mop, I've seriously swept my floors like twice a day. It's so much easier! I have a chocolate lab, so there's a lot of hair around here, but not anymore!
  • do my hair and makeup - I used to not do this everyday. Until my sister was playing with my camera and I saw what I really look like. AAAhhhhhhh!!!!!! That was scary! I wanted my husband to like what he came home to. So, I started taking time every day to do my makeup. 
  • read a Bible story to my boys - I really want my boys to have God's Word hid in their hearts. If I start now setting time each day to have some Bible time, hopefully it will become habit, even when they're older.
  • wash a load of laundry - I was doing good at this until our washing machine broke a few weeks ago. We still don't have a washer, so I am currently doing the laundry in the bathtub. I don't get as much done that way, and I know it's not as clean as the machine gets it, but it's better than running around naked. {Contrary to what my 2 year old believes} 

Now, this is my own personal list, in no specific order. I do not get to every one of these every day, but if you don't have any goals, you're not going to get anywhere.

Most of the time, by the end of the day, the sink is overflowing again, there are toys scattered ll over the place, and I've forgotten to drink any water..

One step at a time.
One day at a time.
Each day is a new start.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Homemade Marshmallow Frosting

Alright, you can't really have cake without frosting. At least I can't.
Here is what makes the cake. 
First, get a cup's worth of marshmallows. 
I don't measure. I'm too lazy. 
I haven't made this in a while, so these are the leftover marshmallows, and they were a little hard. 
Heat the marshmallows so they mix easily. Usually about 30 seconds is enough. But mine were hard, so it took a minute. 

Add a tablespoon of milk. Regular milk, raw milk, whatever kind you want. I used coconut milk. Stir until it looks like this. Mine was a little lumpy because, again, they were harder than normal.

In a separate bowl, mix 3 cups of powdered sugar with 1/3 cup of cocoa.
Put about a cup of coconut oil in another bowl, and cream it with a mixer. 
{Again, I didn't measure. I'm too lazy.}
Next is the really messy part. It's not usually this messy. Of course, it's because I was taking pictures. 
You're supposed to mix the coconut oil in the powdered mix. Um, if it's as messy as mine, just go ahead and add the marshmallow mix, too. 
Use the mixer... unless you're really strong.
Using a bigger bowl would probably help with the mess.
Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla. 
Set aside a 1/4 cup of milk. 
Add a tablespoon at a time, mixing in between. 
You don't need to add the whole 1/4 cup of milk. Keep adding until you reach desired consistency. The less you add, the thicker it will be. 
Frost your cake, and enjoy! 
The kind of coconut oil you use will determine your outcome. This time I used a better quality oil, and you could definitely taste it. Keep that in mind. Also, you could use butter instead of coconut oil. 
This frosting could also be dairy-free if that's your preference. 

Just be careful of what size bowl you use. Lol.

{Yummy} Dairy-free Egg-free Chocolate Cake!

This cake is so good!
 It's called Wacky Cake or Depression Cake. 
It is so easy! And it's from scratch!
Wacky, I know.
First, set your oven to 350. 
Next, you're supposed to grease an 8x8, but I never do. 
Then, you mix all the dry ingredients right in the pan!! So cool that there's no extra dishes!
Dry ingredients: 1 1/2 cup flour
3 Tbsp cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
After you stir it all together it should look like that picture. ^^
Then make three indentations in your mixture. Two small and one big. I like to make a face out of them because I'm easily amused. Today I made a grumpy face. 
Fill one small dent with vinegar and one with vanilla. The bigger one is supposed to be vegetable oil, but I don't ever have vegetable oil, so I use olive oil. {I thought it was cool how they all started with "v".} See? It doesn't take much to amuse me. 
Then pour one cup of water over the top and stir. 
I don't know if you actually have to make the dents and do it all exact, but that's the was I learned, and I've always done it that way. 
Anyways, stir until it's pretty consistent. Like cake batter. 
Stick it in the oven for 35 minutes.
This is what should come out! Yum!
Allow to cool and frost with your favorite frosting. 
If I'm feeling adventurous tonight I'll post the frosting recipe I use. 
It is pretty ridiculous tasting.
I made this a lot during the summer because I was nursing R and he can't have dairy. I made it at least 3 times a week. So, I had it memorized.
One time I accidentally put 3 tablespoons of baking soda instead of cocoa. I realized it right away and tried to scoop as much out as I could. I thought I did a pretty good job. I continued on with my cake. 
After it cooled, my husband and I each took a bit at the same time, and boy! It burned your mouth. 
I'm pretty sure I spit mine out.
Not just because it tasted bad. 
But my husband is quite dramatic. So, he made me laugh. 
Let's just say that's not the first time chocolate has come out my nose...

Anyways... all that to say, well.. not sure why I said that... 
Enjoy your cake!

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Gabi. Short for Gabrielle.
I am married to a very handsome strong man who loves me and spoils me.
We have two boys, L is two and a half, and R is eleven months. (For their safety I will not use their full names or post pictures of them. I've seen too many scary things on tv.)
I need to do everything. Seriously. At least try. You will soon find that out if you become a reader. You'll probably think I can do it all and I'm amazing. {I like to think so.} The truth is {most people} can't do many things excellent. You can, however, do many things good.
I love reading blogs. I figured I should give it a try. When I was in Elementary School I wanted to be a writer. I don't think I have enough to write about so that's why I've never tried it.
I come from a family of three girls. When I found out L wasn't a girl I thought, "What on earth will I do with a boy!?" Ha. Now I have two and I wouldn't trade them. Well... most days I wouldn't trade them.
Also, I need a new laptop. ;)

And this is my dog, Brownie.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Creative, Healthy, Smart Wife

Yes, that's supposed to be me. ;)
Most days.

I'm creative. I love crafting. Crocheting, scrapbooking, sewing, making music... If it includes making something, I like it. Unless it's quilting. That one takes patience. I'd rather finish projects quicker.

I'm healthy. Well, I want to be healthy. Ans not "low-fat" or "low calories" kind of healthy. I'm one of those who is into organic, non-GMO food. Yeah. We drink raw milk. My son eats gluten-free because it's hard on his immune system. I use essential oils on my family for health and for comfort. I don't use chemicals to clean my home. Of course, I won't look down on you if you disagree with me.

I'm smart. :D I just added this one for the fun of it. It was either smart or beautiful. I didn't want to be too arrogant. {smirk} Although I like to believe I am both.

Okay, okay, maybe these are things I'd like to be!

Now, I am not trying to be miss holier-than-thou or Miss Priss. Please join me in my endeavors to live more creatively, healthier, and smarter.... Okay and beautifuler! ;) {see, that's my smartness showing}

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year, New Beginnings

Today starts the journey to better eating while saving money.
Our goal as a family is to spend less money, and pay off as much debt as we can. My goal, (that I didn't consult my husband about because I know he's not as passionate as I am) is to feed my family better quality food.
Also, I need to drink more water. ;)
My husband is an avid hunter and filled our freezer this year with two deer.

For dinner we had venison stew: venison stew meat, carrots, corn, and seasonings. Easy. I wanted to make it a little more interesting so I cooked some quinoa on the side. My family loves quinoa.

My husband kept saying how great it tasted.
Happy family from a healthy, easy, cheap meal. Yay me! I took an adult sized portion and blended it up for my 11-month old. He finished it. That boy is under 5th percentile and you wouldn't guess it by watching him eat.

I don't know why I don't make things that easy for myself more often. :P