Happy Fall Everyone!

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img_0374As usual, Florida fall is elusive! But today being the first day of fall I wanted to wish everyone a happy fall season! I’m excited for cooler weather (hasn’t happened yet!), apples (still waiting for them to travel down to Florida!), apple cider, and pumpkins! I guess all my favorite fall stuff doesn’t pay attention to a calendar.

Here’s a few things that I’m looking forward to hopefully doing this fall season:

Make apple dumplings!

It’s always a challenge with being gluten free and dairy free, but I try to make it happen at least once while apples are in season.

Carve pumpkins with the family!

I probably won’t carve one myself, but I will do something crafty. I just think pumpkin carving is way to much work for way too little satisfaction!

Wear a sweater

because its cool out, not because I’m freezing in air conditioning!

Open the windows!

Bake

some snickerdoodles without melting! (Me personally, not the cookies. You can’t help but get overheated when you are trying to bake and it is 90 degrees F out!)

Thanksgiving–my favorite holiday!

I will have to figure out something different to eat besides turkey since that made me sick last year. Any suggestions?

Go trick or treating!

I already have my “costume” picked out–a t-shirt. It had to be simple this year, but I will be wearing an orange t-shirt that has a Halloween saying on it. I’ll share pictures when the holiday gets closer.

Go on a road trip somewhere.

I think we have some planned including a field trip maybe. It is much nicer traveling in Florida in the fall as you don’t melt when you get back in the car after your outing.

What about you–do you have any plans for fall? Do you live where the leaves change color?

Favorite Birthday Presents

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Hi Everyone! I’ve missed writing in this space and interacting with you all! So, a few things have happened since May–I managed to survive working and finding enough activities for my daughter during the summer. School has been in session for almost a month now! My mom had major surgery and came through it well and I am thankful. We had a hurricane/tropical storm this weekend and never lost power, but got an extra day off school! Others are having issues with flooding in our state so everyone wasn’t so blessed, but it was the first big storm to make landfall in 11 years, so I am thankful!

It is ALMOST fall and I’m so looking forward to cooler temperatures–summer has been quite hot and miserable this year. And last, but not least I had a birthday! I always feel blessed when people remember my birthday and I’ve enjoyed lots of introverted celebrations. Quiet reading in my corner with coffee, a nice breakfast out with my family, some SUPER yummy orange carrot apple ginger soup (that my sister made for me) and a few surprises! Here are three of my favorite presents that I thought you would enjoy hearing about.

coffeeFirst of all –coffee! This summer I’ve discovered that super dark, strong coffee is my favorite. I got a French press, but it was a bit much to try to make coffee in it before getting out the door with school starting. My mom got me this gem–a travel French press coffee cup. You press the coffee right in the cup and its ready to go in no time! Bonus–clean up is SO EASY. And since its red (my favorite color!) that makes it taste even better!

I’ve always had a watch, but I had decided to use my cell phone instead for a few years. When I decided that a watch was a necessity again my old one had stopped working. My husband got my this lovely GREEN Kermit the frog watch. It reminds me of my very first watch which was also a Kermit watch–just not quite so green!kermit

Finally, a coloring/reflection/worship book! I’ve been fascinated by the Bible journaling trend, but haven’t done anything with it probably because lettering isn’t something I’ve taught myself. I LOVE to color though! I can’t wait to start on this book and use it as a stepping stone to deepen my relationship with God. coloring

So, what have you been up to all summer? Did you eat great, play hard, and are you ready to jump into the fall season with gusto?

Menu Planning–The Nitty Gritty

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handy-dandy-notebookSo, I got asked how I menu plan. It honestly changes according to the time of year, my mood, and the grocery budget. Here are some of the ways I’ve used more than once!

I have a collection of recipes that sound good/we’ve tried and liked. Some of them are in an app/website called pepperplate.com That’s where I store all my online recipes. You can make shopping lists in there, menus if you want, but what I mostly use it for is storing recipes so I can use them to cook without printing out a whole ton of paper recipes. I also have some Pintrest boards labeled Weeks 1-5 so there are ideas for every time I go to do menu plans. They are shared boards with my sister and we have a lot of fun sharing ideas. I highly recommend sharing with a friend or browsing some blogs for different ideas–not all of them will be at the top of your families list, but it does get boring cooking the same thing over and over.

Here are the tools I use to actually menu plan and make a shopping list:
meal-plan

shopping-list

I work so much better with paper and pen! I got these planning sheets from iheartplanners. I got her full planner with another purchase I made, but she has options for getting several printables for free when you sign up for her email list or her short course on organizing! I also love her full planner–I don’t use everything, but some of her extra sheets have been very helpful.

So, last year I was getting a bit fed up with bits of paper everywhere–menu plans here and there with shopping lists everywhere but where I needed it at the store! I got the idea for a menu plan book from inkwell press. While I would love to own one of their books someday at the time I needed something RIGHT THEN and they were sold out of their menu planners for the year. (Good news–they just released their new ones and they look super exciting if you are looking for something!) So, I took the pages I printed out from iheartplanner and taped them into my moleskin notebook with my colorful washi tape!
this-weeks-plan
Now my menu plan is right next to my shopping list in the same book and I can take it to the grocery store with me! There is even a pocket in the back that I can put some coupons in if I have some. I’ve really enjoyed having everything together and it has helped me with shopping A LOT. I usually reference the meals when I’m shopping in case I left out an ingredient or forgot something I needed for lunches.

So, what do you think? Did you get some new ideas today? Do share your favorite meal planning tips! I always need new ones!

Menu Plan Monday September 12

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Peach Coffee Cake

Is everyone ready for a menu plan? We’ve been watching reruns of the “A-Team” lately, so I think it’s totally appropriate to say, “I love it when a plan comes together!”–Hannibal Smith

This will look a little different from before because of the changes I talked about last week! It is also going to be two weeks of menus because that is the way I’m planning right now. It gives me a bit of a break and some time to come up with some fun ideas for the next two weeks.

Breakfast:
Cinnamon Crunch bread or banana bread or leftover peach coffee cake from last week
Lime Bars
Weekends: eggs, cereal, fruit, toast

Lunch:
Creamy Carrot soup from a vegetarian cookbook
Burrito Bowl
The Princess decided on bacon sandwiches again and my husband is doing a mix of meatball sandwiches and a salad. I’m not sure what they are doing next week–the training for planning two weeks has not been completed at this time!

Dinners:
Waffles, sausage
Chicken Salad (we grilled a couple of extra chicken breasts on Sunday while we had the grill out and used those for this salad. I’ll post the dressing recipe soon!)
Beef stroganoff, rice, green beans
Peanut butter (or almond) and jelly sandwiches
pizza x 2
fish, whatever fresh veggie from the farmer’s market, potatoes du jour x 2
Chili, cornbread
Rosemary chicken & potatoes in the crockpot
Tuna fish and tomato soup
Clam Chowder, rolls
Steak sandwiches, French fries
Leftovers
Smoothie and Popcorn

Check back later this week for how I menu plan!!🙂

Menu Plan Monday–Changes

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fruitI am still menu planning–it is a habit now and I think I would have a full-blown panic attack if I had to go a whole week without a plan or even worse go to the grocery store without a shopping list based on that plan! I have had to make some major changes over the summer in order to keep us on track and make the menu plans work for us instead of us working for them!

Change Number One

My daughter has started planning her own lunches and snacks. (I read about this on a blog that I can no longer find!) And when I started her doing this I told her that she had to plan the same lunch for the week PLUS pack it ahead of time. In the morning all she had to do was pack everything into her lunch box. I honestly had no idea how this would change our mornings for the better! On top of that, she is also budgeting and buying her own lunch and snack fixings. This means she looks forward to the grocery shopping and helps because she’s part of the process now. I thought she would be too young for this, but she isn’t. She hasn’t gone over budget and has actually saved up money for special treats that she wanted. It’s been amazing.

Change Number Two

Once I saw how well eating the same lunch was working for her I decided to do the same thing for me and my husband. Sometimes there’s leftovers from dinner, but if the fridge gets packed with leftovers I take the time to freeze the extra for another meal. This is working out equally well for us too. I thought I would get bored eating the same thing for lunch everyday, but I am not. Doing everything at once on one day makes it completely worth it.

Change Number Three

I started planning even more simple meals for dinner. If its something more complicated I want to eat, I just save it for a weekend or a day off. My husband especially appreciates this because he has to fix dinner two nights a week. If he has to do more than make a sandwich or warm something up it really stresses him out. Life is just so busy with work and school that I don’t want to spend precious downtime in the kitchen cooking and cleaning up! Simple is better and everyone seems to be enjoying the change.

So what about you? Is something nagging you that needs to change? I encourage you to sit down and plan some changes! It makes a world of difference when you can go with the flow instead of trying to fight it all the time!

New Favorite Things!

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Hi Everyone! It’s been some time since I shared some of my favorite things. Enjoy!

I’m not usually a huge fan of mixes, but sometimes (when its the end of school and you don’t even want to look at six bags of gluten-free flour!!) you cave in. I was super surprised to see this new brand that has an amazing short list of ingredients and actually tastes yummy too! Here’s a picture of the finished chocolate muffin mix:chocolate muffins They are available at several different online stores–and they have crackers also!

Next is ice cream! I have a weak spot for ice cream and while it is fairly simple to make it, I’ve been buying it occasionally because of time. Have you heard of Ben & Jerry’s diary free ice cream? I have to say it is really amazing–one of my favorite flavors ever actually. Unfortunately, the Chunky Monkey flavor is the only one that is gluten-free. Maybe there will be more in the future! dairy free ice cream

I seriously have an issue with pens–when I have a favorite you should really not try to borrow it. I have been known to raise my voice if you try! I’m working on it, but after years of working with the public I know how often pens come back! I didn’t know I needed a new pen, but this one has a super fine point and is amazing for writing in the tiny spaces of my planner.

Speaking of planners, I recently discovered Inkwell Press. I had a credit to use in their store and I wasn’t sure what to think at first. I purchased the Weekly Kick-start notepad and I am in love. It’s made the past few weeks so much easier with the end of school crazies and getting everyone on the same page–literally! The paper is so nice and thick I can write on with sharpies if I want to and not have it bleed through.

And finally–coffee! When I’ve been drinking hot coffee I’ve been using the Starbucks Via Brew. Which are delightful, but a bit of a strain on the budget. I decided to give a French press coffee pot a try. It has been lovely to get the strong dark coffee taste with a fraction of the cost. It is a bit to have to wash it–just so you are forewarned, but I still love the taste that I am willing to add another chore to my list.

What about you? What have been your favorite things for the past month? Do you think you will try any of my favorite things?

Five Frugal Things

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Hi Everyone! It’s a no menu post week and I thought I would try a list post! I follow The Frugal Girl and she occasionally posts 5 frugal things she’s doing. I find it refreshing and a great reminder because while I am always striving to be frugal sometimes I lose sight of all the things I’m actually keeping up with and instead focus on the huge looming bills or other things that don’t seem so frugal.

Feel free to chime in with your list or even your favorite frugal activity that you find easy and fun to keep up with!

bread
1. I made bread. We eat gluten-free and dairy-free bread at my house and during the past few months I’ve just been buying frozen bread. It doesn’t taste the greatest and it really isn’t cheap at $5/loaf, but sometimes its better to save sanity and spend the money. This past week I took the time to make the bread and boy was it yummy! It tasted even better remembering that I didn’t have to spend $5 for a loaf!

2. I bought a French Press coffee maker. I know–I count spending money as a frugal activity?? Well, I’ve been craving really dark coffee. The only thing that tasted good was the Starbucks sticks in the Italian Dark Roast. The cheapest I’ve found the sticks is $1 per more or less. So I made the plunge and purchased a French Press Coffee pot after doing some research. I absolutely love it. It is the exact taste that I was looking for and it’s perfect for that strong cup of coffee in the morning.

3. We chopped up/juiced veggies/fruit in our fridge. We had a ton of veggies/fruit leftover at the end of the week, so instead of going out and buying more and burying what we had we took about 45 minutes to chop up and juice our extra veggies. It worked! We ate/drank them up instead of throwing them in the trash. So encouraging.

4. Bought some local eggs. Also not a “cheap” activity, but the eggs are happier and much more yummy than even the organic eggs in the grocery store–and there’s no comparing the price! I love happy eggs.🙂

5. Used a coupon before it expired. I am having a hard time remembering which coupon this was, but I recently did buy some nut milk on sale at the store and remembered to use the coupon I had printed out a few weeks before. This is my favorite way to save a lot at the store when I have time.

So how about you? What are your favorite frugal things from the past few weeks?