Thursday, January 29, 2009

Call me Crazy

if you want to but I am in love and now obsessed with this idea... Bento Box Lunches...
I love to cook and I am always looking for fun new ideas. I also love gadgets and little organizing kinds of things so this is right up my ally. I can hardly wait for Sophia to start school so I can make Bento Box lunches for her. Well I can wait for her to start school I don't want her to grow up to fast. I may make her these now for her lunches during the week. She will love them and her grandparents (her grand parents watch her for us during the week) will to I am sure. I came across this blog during the Meal Planning Monday and it just so happens we have a mutual friend (Donna) over at Loving Lauren. The adoption community and the blogging world never cease to amaze me with the wealth of creativity and talent that are out there.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Meal Planning week #1

In keeping with the on going goal to save money and organize our home and life better we are striving to plan our weekly meals better. This is not only a cost saving tool but a time saving tool for those with busy schedules. It also has the added benefit of we are eating better and more healthy food. We definitely feel less rushed at dinner time and feel like we have accomplished something by not eating on the run. A few post ago i talked about the website I am an Organizing Junkie. Each week she does a post called Menu Plan Monday. She post her families menu for the week and asks her readers to post theirs as well. There are so many great meal and recipe ideas there that I just had to join in so starting this week every Monday I am going to post our families menu for the week. I am going to try and include recipes where it is appropriate. I have next weeks menu already done and everything we will be eating are things that we have had in the house either in the pantry or in the freezer. I needed to shop for minimal ancillary items to round out the meal. Most are pretty standard meals in our house with the exception of the Friday night meal that is a new one. I found it while looking for a way to use up the Christmas Ham I have frozen. We will be designating Thursday night as leftover night to give ourselves a brake from cooking and to clear out all the bits and pieces of the meals we have eaten all week. I think it looks pretty Yummy my self...

Menu for Week of Jan. 26th 2009

OK we live in the south so we drink Ice Tea a lot....

Monday - Chicken Tacos with all the fixings and cinnamon crisps. Ice tea with mint and lemon.
(crock pot meal)(prepare extra salad fixings for Tuesday's dinner)

Tuesday - Shepherd's pie, Salad, Brownies and Ice Tea and lemon
(freeze ahead meal)

Wednesday - Italian Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Oh yeah and Ice Tea with mint and lemon. Lemon cake.
(easy meal to prepare after work)(make extra Rice and freeze for Sat. Meal)

Thursday - Left over Smorgasbord and Salad (make extra for Fri. night dinner)
(all the yummies from the rest of the week)

Friday - Ham and Cheese casserole, Salad and Brownies. Ice tea with lemon
(new freeze ahead Recipe)

Saturday - Spicy Chicken Curry Casserole and salad, Coconut Rice pudding and ice tea with mint and lemon.
( also freezes well)

Sunday - Spicy Sausage and Broccoli Rabe with pasta garlic bread and salad. Ice tea with lemon, orange and mint. Lemon Cake.
(quick and easy Italian meal) we always have Italian on Sunday night...

I know this one by heart but there is a recipe I just have to find it. I will post it when I do..

UPDATE, We all ready have an adjustment to this weeks Meal Plan. Tonight my FIL offered to make Meatloaf while he and MIL are babysitting for us and Thursday we were invited to dinner. So Chili Chicken Tacos will be moved to next week and no leftover night for us this week...

Give Away Time

Give Away Time at Kozy Pal Cart Covers
Be sure to check it out before Friday Jan. 30th 2009.

I have sang the praises of this product before and I truly cant say enough about it or the Company's costumer service. They are wonderful and very accommodating to work with. If you don't have one for your baby/toddler you must go check out the give away and even if you do help spread the word about this terrific Company..

Happy Chinese New Year !

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

This year is the year of the OX (my brother in law Chris is an OX). Chinese New Year is the biggest and most important of all Holidays in China. The preparations for all the festivities begin well before the actual holiday. People plan travel back to see family in parts of China that are more remote from the urban city's that we see on the news as the "boom town" of China. Many people work in city's far from their homes and see family only once a year during Chinese New Year. This celebration is all about reconnecting with loved ones, family and friends. It is a 15 day celebration of visiting, food, parades, parties and fireworks. We celebrated with our local FCC group this weekend with a lovely outdoor picnic. The kids all had a nice time playing and eating some of the traditional Chinese dishes of Chinese New Year including Dumplings (for prosperity), long noodles (for good luck) and oranges to signify wealth. I reflect today on Sophia's Biological mother and her foster mother. I know that even though Sophia has no memory of these two women, they do have a memory of this child that one gave birth to and the other cared for, for 10 months. I hope that if they are thinking of Sophia they somehow know that Sophia is safe and loved by a family and friends that cherish her beyond words. I think about China and these two women everyday some days more then others, today is one of the more then other days...If I could I would thank both of them for giving Sophia life and a chance for a future and for giving Sophia the best possible care we could have prayed for during our wait..These women will always be an important part of our Chinese New Year Celebration....

Gung Hei Fat Choi!!!!

Come back later for "Meal Plan Monday"

and Check "Simply Sophia" tomorrow for new pictures....


Sunday, January 25, 2009

The BIG shop

Well today I sat down and made my meal plan for the week. I will post that tomorrow on Meal Plan Monday. I came up with a few good meals mostly all standard fair for our house and one new recipe found in the local newspaper. I was able to make the meal plan with little trouble and really only needed a few things from the grocery store for each meal. What we did need was EVERYTHING else. We were out of all the staples and almost all of the meat we had in the freezer. We had to do the BIG shop and replenish the pantry. I was happy to find that both the stores we normally shop at were having pretty good Buy one Get one free sales this week. So I made my list, gathered my coupons and off we went to the store. I took a pad and paper so I could comparison shop for the normal everyday items I buy that I can never find coupons for like butter, bread and eggs. I was really surprised to find the store I thought would be cheaper for these things was not cheaper at all. I spent way more then the $40 a week that some of "expert budget shoppers" spend but I did have to buy a lot more then just a regular weekly shopping trip. I bought everything I usually buy and only had a few coupons (Not a good coupon week in our paper). Over all I was happy with the amount I spent and what I was able to get for that price. I wont need to go to the store now for several weeks so really if I brake it down I guess I can say I spent close to that $40 a week. My goal is to be able to go to the store weekly and buy what we need for our weekly menu along with whatever staples we need and to spend less the $75. This week I spent a total of $145.52. $89.14 of that was at Publix for the majority of what we needed and the remaining $56.38 was at Winn Dixie. Looking at what we bought I know there are areas we can cut cost and a few connivance items we can do away with once we are better organized with our weekly meal plan. For our first time at this I think we did fairly well. Check back later for our Weekly Menu Plan for this week and for the link to the "Meal planning Monday"

The Prep Work
Winn Dixie
( I need to learn to take better pictures)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A call out to the Adoption Community

A read a story this morning that touched my heart and moved us to action. The story is about two little girls who formed a bond while growing up in an orphanage in China. You can read the whole story on the family blog at Journey to Jordan and Jailynn.
The family also has a very talented and kind friend who is hosting a fundraiser for them. Check it out over at Jailynn's Prayer . I can't wait to see how this turns out and wish the family the very best in their journey to be a family.

Friday, January 23, 2009



I won again on a blog give Away.... One of my favorite blogs that I have been following forever thanks to my good friend Amy (Lottie's Mom) My Mom Shops Just had her second annual Blogiversary week long give away. She had some great things over there, be sure to check out her blog. I signed up for a chance to win several of them but my favorite was this one and I can't believe I actually won it.. You just gotta love a give away....I know Sophia will look super cute in this little onesie, a pair of blue jeans,white sneakers and of course the ever present hair bow.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Where I have been lurking

So many of you have commented and e-mailed me privately about my quest for financial freedom. I have been so touched by the interest and overwhelmed with the creativity of some of you. I am learning as I go about coupons and grocery budgeting (my biggest challenge really). I had to say thank you to all of you who sent me advice and ideas on how to accomplish a meal plan and a food budget. I wanted to pass along some great websites and blogs I have come across in my journey to freedom...

I found this site first and she gave me motivation and provided inspiration to take the first steps toward reducing our debit. Nice Pumpkins from her site I found this great resource for learning how to use coupons most effectively. I am no where near as accomplished at this then either of these two women and I am not sure I ever will be but i have practiced a few of their tips and it does help stretch that ever shrinking grocery dollar. Money Saving mom. This site is also a great site for Coupon education. Hence the name Couponing 101 and last but certainly not least is Stephanie over at The Coupon Game who has the most amazing blog. I almost forgot to mention this website and how awesome it is because you sign up and she e-mails you deals that are out there on everyday products that all of us use. Freebies 4 mom This is a great site for those of you like me who work full time and have a busy schedule and little time to find these deals yourself. I am also addicted to the I'm an Organizing Junkie for many reasons but her Weekly Meal Planning is such a good resource and i will be participating in that starting next Monday so stay tuned. There are many more sites and ways to save money out there so I am sure you will fins something to inspire you and help you in your own personal quest whatever that may be. Good luck and please continue to post comments and tips whenever you have something to share....

Still looking for those great Freeze ahead meals and Crock pot recipes.... I have a few from you all already but keep them coming...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

eating what we have

We have noticed that since we have been working on our financial health that we tend to shop and eat out for meals out of convenience. sometimes (most times) it is easier to stop by the store and pick up something "easy" or just go out to eat. I have been trying to be better at meal planning. Learning more and more crock pot recipes and making more servings of dishes when possible so that I can freeze them for future meals. I have always been bad about making a list before going to the store so I am also working on that. When I was making a list for the store last week I decided to pull everything out of the pantry to see what we already had but was hiding behind things we use everyday. What I found out was we had enough food in our pantry to eat for quite some time without going to the store at all. There was everything in there from Risotto to brownie mix. Doing this inspired me to clean out the fridge and the freezer. We have a side by side (I hate it) and I find that things get lost in the freezer very easily. cleaning it out made me realize 2 things I need to take things out of their packaging and 2. again we could eat for weeks on what was in there. For Christmas dinner we had Ham and I intentionally bought a big one. I had plans to cut it up into individual serving sizes for future meals. When I cleaned the freezer I realized we had 10 meals plus the ham bone for a good batch of Navy Bean soup. There were also a few other meals in there that have made eating at home more convenient in the last few weeks. We have had to go to the store for all the normal weekly things like Milk, bread and eggs but we have been eating out less and have been eating what we have instead of eating out of convenience. We have had some really good and nice meals at home as a family with less stress so I ask what is really easier eating out or planning and eating at home....

If you have any good Soup, crock pot or freezer meals please pass them on.
The Freezer all cleaned
The Christmas HamChili, Beef Stew and Spaghetti Sauce with Spicy SausageThe freezer cleaned and rearranged

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Give away time again..

It is give away time again. If you love give aways like I do go take a look at my friend Melissa's blog. She is the artiest I talked about before Christmas. She makes beautiful handmade items including some really nice hand crafted jewelry. I have several of her pieces and I am always looking to add to my collection. Melissa is doing a monthly give away again this month so go take a look. Be sure to check back next month as she has decided to do a monthly give away on her blog.

Jetty and Ella's Mama

Monday, January 12, 2009

Precious Panda babies everywhere

Go check out our friends who go their babies yesterday. They are all beautiful and the parents all look so happy. We want to say CONGRATULATIONS to Donna and Joe, Karen and David, and Stephe. By a strange twist of fate an other friend that used our agency to adopt her first daughter is now using their agency to adopt her second daughter is traveling with these ladies you can see her beautiful daughter here. Riz and I want to also congratulate Julie and Chris, Sophia (their daughter) is just beautiful...

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Finacial Goals for 2009

Those of you who have been reading and following our story know that we adopted our daughter this year. She has been the biggest blessing of our lives. She has given us new purpose changed our lives and our priorities in ways we never realized would happen. We want to adopt again and bring home an brother or a sister for her. This year we are planning on focusing on enjoying life with just her and on preparing ourselves to jump back into the process of adoption. We can't wait....I have been following a few AWESOME blogs of women who are trying to get there financial life in order. They are inspiring in so many ways. Back before Christmas I pledge to myself and to Riz that we would set goals for ourselves in 2009 for our financial health. So here they are...

1. Start Grocery Shopping on a budget...I am learning how to do this from this group of blogs that I have been following . It has been a challenge to change our habits of just grabbing and going at the grocery store... We are slowly getting there. I am no where near as good or as disciplined as these women. I am more aware of what I am buying and more aware of where the deals are. This has been fun really...

2. Pay off the 3 credit cards we have. During the process to adopt our daughter these 3 cards were used for various adoption related things and a bit of retail therapy too. I have the first one almost paid off and the second one is about to get a huge payment do to the fact we sold our camper tonight. We are sad about that but we have not camped in almost 2 years and our camper was beginning to rot away so we thought lets sell it and pay off some debit with the money. We feel good about the fact that we got what we were asking for it and that after 15 years we got nearly what we paid for it. Later down the road when the debit is all gone and our quest for baby #2 is under way we may look into buying a new camper (well not new but new to us)..Cash of course...

3. Start an emergency fund....and add to it every pay period no matter the amount we are able to put in it. We are starting with $25 dollars a pay period and hope to increase it as we pay off the credit debit.

That is it we limited our goals to just three for now and if by chance we get those accomplished then we can always add more but for now that is where we are...I will post once a month to let you know the progress on these goals....

Monday, January 05, 2009

Tagged by Cheri

So Cheri tagged me and the way this one works is I had to open the 4th picture folder on my computer and post the 4th picture in the folder and describe what is pictured so here is goes..

This is one of my favorite pictures from our trip to China. This was taken on June 18th only two days after we became a family. We were in Nanchang, China at the Tang Wang Pavilion. It was Hot as blazes that day, steamy really you can see the humidity in the air. Sophia was most comfortable in our arms at that time and we were happy to carry her everywhere even in the heat of that day. I look at his picture and realize just how much my little baby has changed in 7 months. She was still a scared little girl here I was a thrilled, happy, proud mama even in the heat with no makeup and looking a wreck but she was scared and still shell shocked. Thanks Cheri this was a nice way to look back at where we were and how far we have come since then..I love looking back at all of our pictures from our time in China they are such wonderful memories....

So you know I must tag 4 people I hope you all will play along...

Rhonda from Our Slow Boat to China
Melissa from Waiting For Lily
Sharon from Journey to Mary Alice
Susan from Love times two

and heck two more for good measure...

Gigi from Our China Doll
Stephanie from Loving Life with Lily