Monthly Archives: December 2013

Menu, Week of 12/15


Remember last week when I said that I needed to make fast meals? That is even more true this week, but it totally went out the window last night, when I came across the most delicious looking recipe for broccoli-cheese stuffed pork tenderloins wrapped in bacon. That was a time-consuming meal to put together, but once I saw it, I knew it HAD to happen, right away. It was worth every minute, too–the whole family agreed.

I did need that time, though, because the yarn I have been waiting for finally came in yesterday! I probably have about 20 hours left to finish my brother’s blanket, and I still need to finish the collage for my aunt and make some cool braided scarves with my daughter. I’d like to make some jewelry, too. See, even though I started early, I am scrambling at the end, just as I knew I would be. Oh, I want to finish some pottery stuff too! And I need to clean my house and plan the Christmas Eve dinner. And our tree isn’t even up yet!

So, the rest of this week will be as easy as possible. We need food that is fast, but not fast food, ;). I have been more strict on eating low carb this past week, and I have felt great and lost three pounds, so I am keeping that up this week, too. Also, I know that this is Tuesday rather than Monday–I started this on Monday, it has just been a very busy week!

Sunday: Chicken fingers, green beans sauteed with bacon

Monday: Bacon-wrapped, broccoli/cheese-stuffed pork tenderloin, sauteed zucchini and yellow squash with marinara sauce, cauliflower rice

Tuesday: Bacon and eggs

Wednesday: Bacon cheeseburger casserole

Thursday: Green chili made with pork roast, almond flour biscuits

Friday: Pizza, salad

Saturday: Kefta, tomato and egg tagine

As always, lots more ideas can be found at

Menu, Week of 12/8


You know, I remember last time I did NaBloPoMo, I thought that that momentum gain would propel me into a lot of posting for the following month, even if not every day again. But I think that is one of the problems with the timing of the official big NaBloPoMo–the month after it is December which is full of all kinds of busy-ness. Everyone is so busy with parties and cleaning house and shopping and making gifts (in varying amounts, depending on the person, 🙂 ), that it is hard to keep up with anything, especially a relatively new habit. I will have to jump in on this earlier next year, so that next December I already have a deeply ingrained habit, I think.

One habit I am determined to keep going, though, is the menu planning. It is even more crucial when I am busy–on any given day of running around and projects, I don’t have time to make decisions about what to cook for dinner, and with gift buying and holiday entertaining, I don’t have the money to be buying pre-made food. The key words this week are fast and easy–even more than most weeks. I always like easy, but I usually throw in a few more involved dishes because I really do enjoy that when I have time. This week, I don’t have time!

Monday: Peanut Coconut Chicken Curry

Tuesday: Bacon and cheese omelette

Wednesday: Pork with Paprika, Mushrooms and Sour Cream, gnocchi for the kids

Thursday: Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole Skillet

Friday: Pizza

Saturday: Chili

As always, you can find a lot more ideas on

Frugal and Fun Holiday Activities


As I get older, time goes faster and faster. I know, it happens to everyone, but it still seems surprising to me. Remember when you were a kid and it seemed like Christmas would never come? Now I am always looking back at the beginning of January thinking about how many things I would have liked to have done that we never got around to doing.

It doesn’t help that we are low in funds this year after the unexpected car purchase. Still, I think we can find some fun things to do without breaking the bank. Here are a few things I would like to do between now and Christmas:

  • Putting up the Christmas tree – This is one we do get done every year, but sometimes it is worked in a bit here and there. If we schedule a night for it, we can enjoy an evening of decorating without stress. Cost: Free!
  • banksPainting porcelain banks – Last year we painted some Christmas village figures, and we had so much fun. This year these cute little banks were one of the few things I bought on Black Friday (I also got some yarn to finish some Christmas gifts), and I know the kids will love painting them together. Cost: less than $10 for all three
  • Winter Wonderland at Tilles Park – We have been meaning to do this for a few years, but haven’t made it for some reason. We can invite some friends, too! Cost: $10/vehicle
  • Crafting party – As you may know if you read this blog at all, I love homemade gifts. I love doing crafty stuff with other people, too. We did a kids’ crafting party a couple of years ago, and that was a lot of fun. I have a lot of crafting supplies lying around that we could use, and we could ask our friends to bring more. I think we could do this without buying a lot of supplies. Cost: Maybe $10-$20 for snacks and drinks
  • Family game night – The kids love playing games! We don’t do it enough. We can invite friends, too. This isn’t technically a holiday activity, but it is a good way to reduce the stress of the holidays and put the focus back on the family. Cost: Free!

Of course, I still have Christmas gifts to make and a house to clean, but surely we can get it all in with some good planning, right? What are you doing to celebrate the holidays?

Christmas Project Progress


button tree

People, Christmas is three weeks from today. Three! I need to get serious about what I want to do and what I will be able to do before that happens. It is definitely time for a prioritized list.

First, here are the things I absolutely want to finish before Christmas:

  1. Any pottery I want for giving needs to be ready for firing by this weekend. It may already be too late–December is a busy time for the kiln! At a minimum I want to finish up some of the small medallions I made to make into magnets and complete whatever coil trees I have already built. These things need to be painted with underglaze and fired, then dipped into clear glaze and fired again. Hopefully I can get them done quickly.
  2. Blanket for my brother
  3. Button tree collage for my aunt
  4. Crocheted coasters for my mother

If I get those things done, I will be happy. If I get them done with time to spare, I will do some or all of these things:

  1. Crochet a wreath for my front door
  2. Find the shawl I started last year for a friend and finish it
  3. Make some jewelry
  4. Make homemade lip gloss
  5. Make sugar scrubs

There is a very good chance that my list of finished projects will look nothing like this list, but I like having a plan to start with at least. I feel pretty good about the first priority items, although not entirely certain.

How are your Christmas projects coming?


Menu, Week of 12/1


We had an eventful weekend. My daughter had a car accident, and the important thing is that no one was hurt. On the other hand, the minivan was pretty damaged, and it is old enough to not be worth repairing–the thing is only worth about $1000, and I would be shocked if we could get it repaired for twice that. Luckily, my brother sells cars and he found the perfect replacement vehicle for us It is another Ford Windstar, 3 years newer than the old one, and it didn’t cost very much!

Isn't it pretty? The power doors and the heater work! The back windshield wiper works! Hmm, maybe I needed a new van anyway....

Isn’t it pretty? The power doors and the heater work! The back windshield wiper works! Hmm, maybe I needed a new van anyway….

Now we are ready for a nice uneventful week (hopefully!), and we are not looking to spend any money for a while. We stocked up at Costco right before this started, so we should be in good shape. We are getting back to eating at the dinner table every night–we used to be so good about that, but lately we are struggling a bit. It does make the evenings go better, and limits the amount of TV we watch, though, so I am keeping at it.

Sunday: Salmon burgers, leftover veggies

Monday: Chicken Thigh Supper, mashed sweet potatoes, green beans and bacon

Tuesday: Thanksgiving leftovers

Wednesday: Salmon casserole with green beans and cauliflower, noodles for the kids, sauteed spinach

Thursday: Hamburgers, buttered broccoli, sauteed mushrooms

Friday: Bacon and mushroom omelette, salad

Saturday: Appetizers at a trivia night–I am thinking avocado bacon devilled eggs and maybe a Spanish frittata with carmelized onions and some kind of tomato-red pepper sauce

As always, you can find a lot more ideas on

I Made an Electronic Piano!


Okay, it was just an easy little project that came with the soldering iron, but still, I am pretty pleased with myself. I have been wanting to do more with electronics for awhile now, but I wasn’t sure where to start. I bought a Learn to Solder Kit from Radio Shack the same time that we bought a bunch of Arduino supplies a while back. The boy and I sat down with our goodies, and I quickly became overwhelmed. I know, that is totally wimpy, but it was a lot of information! The kit didn’t include a clamp to hold the board, and for some reason, I found this to be an insurmountable problem. It was probably a combination of not wanting to spend any more money, and my brain being full because we had started with the Arduino, ;).

After a while, though, I remembered that my dad had actually given us a kit with a soldering iron and a glue gun, and sure enough, that kit included clamp. So, today I decided to just dive in and try to complete the project. What’s the worst that could happen? It wouldn’t work? I could deal with that.


This was meant to be a joint project with the boy, but just as I was sorting out the resistors, one of the neighborhood boys wandered by in front of our house, and he was out the door. I like it when he plays outside, so I told him to go ahead, but that I was going to go ahead and learn to solder without him.

It took me a bit to make sense of the instructions, since I am so not used to this type of project, but I figured I would just do the best I could and see what happened.

soldering in progress

 My joinings didn’t always look pretty, but they seemed to get the job done, and I got better as I went along.

front of board

It may not look super pretty, but the important thing is that when I had everything in place and plugged in the battery, it worked!

See? The light is on!

See? The light is on!

The boy came home right after I finished this project, and he has been writing songs on it ever since. I find it a bit loud, but as long as he stays in the other room, I am loving hearing him play the piano. I made it from a bunch of little parts with a power tool, ;).

Now I feel ready to start some more complicated projects. You know, just as soon as there is room in the budget to buy more supplies.

Have you done any soldering or electronics projects?