Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quick Tip: Breakfast While Traveling

I always look for a hotel with free breakfast when traveling but sometimes I'm stuck at a higher class one and I'm too cheap to pay their high prices for breakfast.

While staying at a Disney Resort for the Tupperware convention this summer, I made my own breakfast in the room using oatmeal packets.  I can't remember where I learned this tip, but I heated water in the coffee maker and made the oatmeal in coffee cups.  It was a cheap, yet filling and healthy breakfast - something I know I would not be able to find at the cafe in the resort.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What I Did On My Summer Vacation: Part 1

Remember back in your school days when the teacher always asked you to write or talk about what you did on summer vacation?  This post is all about what I did this summer - cake decorating!  I've always wanted to know the proper way to decorate a cake and it has been on my list of "things I'd like to do someday" list for ages.  You know, that list that you know will probably never happen but a girl's got to dream, right?

I never know what to ask for when it comes birthday and Christmas time.  I decided for my birthday in early June to ask for Wilton cake decorating classes.  My parents bought me the first set of classes and the kit and arranged to be back up babysitting on the nights my husband was on call.  I posted on Facebook about it and three other friends joined me.  I enjoyed that class so much that I wound up taking the other two classes too.

Warning, the classes are not frugal in the least bit but you can save money by watching for when they are on sale, sharing supplies with a friend, and using your 40% off coupons at all the major craft stores.

Wilton changed all of their classes and June was the first month for the new classes.  This first cake was the first cake we learned how to decorate.  We had a choice of 3 cakes to make and my son picked out the fish.

Next, we learned how to decorate cupcakes and make a few flowers.  Sorry for the poor image quality on this one, it was late at night and my photos didn't turn out great.


This is the final cake for the first set of classes.  My husband picked out the colors.  My friends taking the class with me were all in my Sunday School class and we had a 4th of July party the next day so we decided to take our cakes to the party - that is the reason for the 4th but strange colors.

Next week I will show you my creations from the other two classes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Baked Pork Chops w/ Potatoes & Veggies

My husband was recently informed that for the first time ever, his cholesterol is a little high.  His doctor asked him to make a few lifestyle changes and then test again but she wasn't worried about it yet.  Due to this, he has agreed to let me try a few new healthy recipes.  I'm excited as I love to cook but get frustrated by his pickiness.  I tried this easy recipe last week and we all agreed that it was good.  I would like to play with the spices a bit but overall it satisfied everyone and my 4 year old even ate it.  I did substitute fresh green beans for the mushrooms as none of us like the texture of mushrooms.

Baked Pork Chops with Potatoes & Veggies
(From Weight Watchers Simply the Best cookbook)

2 large baking potatoes, scrubbed & thinly sliced
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 onions, thinly sliced (I used a handful of diced onions as that is all I had)
1/4 cup minced basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
four 4-oz boneless pork loin cutlets
1 can (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes - no salt added

1. Preheat oven to 325.  Spray a 13"x9" baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place the potatoes, mushrooms, onions, basil, salt and pepper in the dish; toss to combine.  Place the pork cutlets over the vegetable mixture; pour the tomatoes over all.  Bake, covered, until the pork and potatoes are fork tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

330 calores, 7 g fat, 30 g protein, 6 points per serving

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Answered Prayer!

For those who have followed this blog for awhile or know me in real life, you know we have been on a journey for the past several years.  For those who are new, let me you can catch you up on why we are Living Life On Less, my feelings at one year, and how life changed again earlier this year.

God answered our prayers recently though.  Last week, my husband was offered not one, but two jobs!  God never ceases to amaze me in how he answers prayers above and beyond what I could ever imagine.  After spending the weekend in prayer and him meeting with both companies again yesterday, we made our decision.  Starting the end of Oct, he will have a full time job for the first time in three years.

For the past year he has worked a part time job where he is on call nights and weekends.  It is getting very old but pays great.  We have decided to keep it at least through the end of the year to make sure the new job works out and to help build up our retirement account that was sorely neglected while we were in survival mode.

When we first heard the news of his job cut so many years ago we never dreamed it would take this long.  We also never dreamed we could survive this long.  I estimated we could make it about 8 months and then we would be broke.  His start date is exactly one week before the three year mark and we survived with no debt!  I owe every bit of that to God.  He provided for our needs and calmed our wants during those years.  He taught us to rely on Him and to work hard.

Let me close with the song I shared at the one year point.  It is the song I Am Blessed and we have definitely been blessed throughout this journey.

I am blessed,
I am blessed,
From when I rise up in the morning,
'Till I lay my head to rest,
And I feel you near me,
You sooth me when I'm weary.
Oh, Lord,For all the worst and all the best,
I am blessed.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We've Gone Bananas!

Ok, I haven't really gone bananas, rather they are falling out of my freezer from being stuffed in every nook and cranny.  A few weeks ago I started cleaning out my freezer and was amazed by how many bananas I found in there.  I immediately started an impromptu freezer cooking session related to bananas.  I was able to use about half of them but could use some ideas for the rest.  The following recipes are what I made that day.

Easy Banana Muffins
Black Bottom Banana Bars
Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I highly recommend all of these recipes and I know my family and friends all enjoyed eating them too.  I also had planned to make banana bread but ran out of time. 

If you have any great banana recipes, please share them in the comments section.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

How to Save on Paper Products

I've heard for years about people not using napkins or paper towels at their house.  It saves money and is environmentally friendly.  I've wanted to do it at my house but figured I could never get away with it. I figured I could limit my paper use though and that would help a little bit.

I started by using kitchen towels instead of paper products.  Then, I started "forgetting" to set out napkins with dinner.  I always had a kitchen towel on the table so my oldest and my husband started reaching for it or getting another one without even thinking about it.  Finally, after not replacing the napkins for close to 2 months, I mentioned it to my husband.  He said he had noticed there were no napkins around but he didn't really think twice about it.

I didn't really realize we had officially made the switch until recent weeks when two incidences happened.  First, I was sent a package of napkins to try out and then fill out a survey.  They estimated it was 2 weeks worth of napkins.  Although I really liked them, I still have half the package and I've had them a month.  

Next, my inlaws came to visit this weekend.  We've been going through a roll of paper towels about once every 6-8 weeks.  The one day they were here, they used an entire roll. 

I'm starting to realize that some frugal and eco-friendly changes really are easier than I first thought. What changes have you made recently that you thought your family might be against?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

School Lunch

This year my child is going to an all day pre-k program so for first the time, I'm having to pack a lunch for him each day. I'm only a few days in to it and I'm already bored with our choices.  Of course, it doesn't help that I have a picky child who desperately needs to eat calories.  Let's just say I'm glad we are not at a nut free school.

Today I came across this great resource called Smart School Time Recipes.  It is a free ebook full of healthy recipes. I'm anxious to try some of them out and see if I can expand our repertoire of food. If anyone else has good ideas, feel free to share them in the comments section.

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