Monday, April 30, 2012

Meal Plan 4

Well, as we will find out for sure this coming Sunday whether we will be moving soon and we will be going to Arizona next week, we are trying to use up all of our food at our house, that way we have less waste :) So, there isn't much we are buying this week. In our cupboards we already have rice, potatoes, pizza kit, pork chops, chicken breasts, meat substitutes, beans, and shredded cheese. Plus, we have lots of fillers for lunches like granola bars, fruit leather, and crackers.

Meal Plan 4/30-5/6
                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: sandwiches, chips, fruit
                Dinner: pizza and salad

                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: sandwiches, chips, fruit
                Dinner: easy garlic chicken, roasted lemon cauliflower, corn
                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: sandwiches, chips, fruit
                Dinner: pork chops, meatless meatballs, parmesan baked potatoes
                Breakfast: oatmeal square
                Lunch: sandwiches/fruit/chips
                Dinner:  boiled red potatoes, chicken/fake burger
                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: sandwiches, chips, fruit
                Dinner:  rice, beans, and cheese
                Breakfast: donut mix in cupboard (cinnamon)
                Lunch: rice, beans, cheese
                Dinner: tortellini
                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: leftovers
                Dinner:  rice mix in lazy susan, salad, burritos

Groceries: fruit(3.37), , bread (.99), chips (1.19), sliced cheese (1.99), garlic cloves (2.00), parm (1.99), yogurt (1.79), welch's fruit fizz(2.89), 2 cinnamon pretzels(4.78), feta cheese(1.99), cheese sticks (2.49), blueberry shredded wheat (1.99), popcorn (1.49), mozzarella (2.99), tortillas (.35), tortilla chips (1.19)

Grand Total: 30.28

Since we are using up what we have at home, we knew we'd be way under budget. So, we added a few fun items to our list like the welch's fruit fizz and two of the cinnamon pretzels since we knew they'd be eaten :) Plus, Josh enjoys late night nachos and quesadillas, how he stays so thin I will never know haha

For more meal time ideas, check out Meal Plan 3

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mashed Cauliflower

I have yet again been inspired by a pinterest recipe! It is mashed cauliflower. I had heard about this in the past and had thought about trying it many times, but never thought about looking up a recipe when the time came. Luckily, pinterest is a permanent reminder of things I want to try :) So, I gave it a go. Along with the mashed cauliflower we had chicken (I had quorn) and asparagus risotto which I wish I could say I made myself, but it was actually from Target. It was really delicious though! So, while this meal looks really white, there are very few carbs actually involved.

The photo above is with the quorn aka fake chicken, and it was seasoned with some lemon pepper seasoning because that is my favorite!!

Now, on the the mashed cauliflower recipe!! I modified this recipe a bit to our liking from I Breathe, I'm Hungry is my version :)

1 medium head of cauliflower
2 Tbl heavy cream
1 Tbl butter
parmesan cheese for taste
salt and pepper to taste

Wash and cut up head of cauliflower into small pieces. Then place the cut up cauliflower, butter, and cream into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for five minutes uncovered. After five minutes, stir the ingredients in the bowl and place back into the microwave for another four minutes, uncovered.

Once microwaving is done, you're almost done. I poured the whole microwave bowl and the cheese and salt/pepper into the blender and put it on the puree setting for a few minutes (stopping occasionally to stir). Once that was done I placed it one our plates with everything else!

Super easy and super yummy!!

Josh chose to cover his in some leftover gravy from a previous meal (crock pot ranch pork chops, although I didn't catch a picture so no post yet) and his chicken was baked thirty minutes in the oven with a little olive oil, red pepper flakes, italian seasoning, and garlic at 375. Easy peasy meal, just made the risotto and cauliflower while the chicken baked and voila! Yummy!

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Applesauce Cookies

Now, I usually change things up a bit when I find a recipe to make it more for my liking, but on this one is almost perfect! Neither Josh or I like cloves, so it was the only thing I omitted :) These applesauce cookies with caramel icing are sooo good!!! The caramel icing is amazing and the cookies are fluffy and delicious. I even took some to work and got tons of compliments on them!

So, here it is! And the original recipe can be found at Chef in Training (which has some amazing recipes, never tried one from her I didn't like)

Cookie Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
1 cup applesauce
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 375. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside for the moment.

Place sugar and shortening into mixing bowl and mix together on a low speed until it looks creamy. Once it looks like a cream add in the egg and applesauce. Mix these altogether until fully mixed. Then slowly add the bowl of dry ingredients. I did it in about three parts.

Once the dough looks nice and thick, it is ready to be put onto a greased baking sheet and placed in the oven for 8-10 minutes. The cookies do spread, but not a ton so don't make the glob too thick on the baking sheet.

While baking or cooling, make the icing!

Icing Ingredients
3 T butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

Using a small sauce pan over medium heat let the butter, heavy cream, and brown sugar melt together. Stir occasionally while it cooks, until it begins boiling. Once it begins to boil, remove from heat and add in the vanilla. Let the mixture cool. Once it cools, then stir in the powdered sugar. It is then ready to drizzle over the delicious cookies!! YUMMY!!

PS..I used the icing the next day to put in my breakfast oatmeal, also a delicious treat!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Meal Plan #3

So, things were a little crazy this week with getting back from the interview on Monday and then not going shopping until Tuesday night. So, this week, my schedule is a little strange. Also, I wanted to really start using food I have in my pantry and freezer so that if we move there isn't a bunch of random stuff to throw away. I HATE throwing away food! So, here is the meal planner for this week!

Meal Plan 4/23-4/29
                Driving home, eat leftovers

                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: sandwiches, chips, fruit
                Dinner: dinner with parents
                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: sandwiches, chips, fruit
                Dinner:  make pizza! With mix in pantry, salad
                Breakfast: oatmeal square
                Lunch: sandwiches/fruit/chips
                Dinner:  asiago chicken, salad
                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: sandwiches, chips, fruit
                Dinner:  rice mix in lazy susan, baked chicken
                Breakfast: blueberry waffles
                Lunch: rice beans, cheese
                Dinner: Josh’s birthday—free meal at Noodles!
                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: leftovers
                Dinner: pasta—frozen ravioli in fridge

Groceries: fruit(1.65), lunch meat (6.08), bread (.99), shredded cheese (2.99), sliced cheese (1.99), fruit leather (1.99), cheese sticks(2.49), cereal(1.99), dessert pretzels(2.39), , fresh spinach (1.49), pasta (3.77), foil (1.99), chips (1.79), yogurt (1.79)

Grand Total: 33.84

Since I didn't need to buy a ton for dinner recipes and stuff, I chose to buy some extra things for Josh's lunch that I knew he would greatly appreciate like cheese sticks, fruit leathers, and the dessert pretzels :) Also, if you are wondering about that free meal at Noodles & Co., it is super easy. Just sign up at their website and enter your birthday and they send you a coupon for a free meal for your birthday! Josh and I love Noodles, so we can't wait to go! Next week I promise to have the meal plan up and ready nice and early! For more meal ideas check out Meal Plan 2.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Life Without TV, pt. 2

So, last week I discussed the reasons and advantages of living life without TV and this week I want to share what we do with all that extra time! As newlyweds we have had some adjustments to make, like figuring out who does which chores around the house, matching our schedules, and other little things that we encounter as we go along through life. This is one of the fun parts about being newlywed, trying to figure out how to live together most effectively!

So, what do we enjoy doing with all of our time without television. Well, there are a few things in particular that are our favorites. The first thing we have really enjoyed doing together is cooking! We have been trying new recipes, looking on pinterest, making our weekly menus, and then trying them out during the week. We have so much fun doing this. Sometimes the recipes turn out great, sometimes they turn out terribly, but when we are doing it together it doesn't really matter because it's fun! We get to learn about one another's likes and tastes in food even more, and be silly while we figure out what we are doing in the kitchen.

Another thing we have recently taken up is writing. Josh and I have begun writing a book together. It might sound a little cheesy or silly, but we have had sooo much fun doing this! We have picked out the plot and outlined the characters and story line. We have also begun the first three chapters and written a prologue. It has been a blast. Since we both adore reading (we even had a book theme to our wedding), it is very enjoyable for us to work on a story of our own together. We are writing a fun fantasy novel with goblins, elves, orcs, and humans. We even have an idea for a trilogy. Now, books may not be your thing, or writing may seem boring to you, but there is something that you and your husband or family will enjoy together if you don't have a TV. You just have to talk it out and figure it out :)

One of our favorite things to do together, and with our puppy, is walk. We LOVE taking walks together. Buchanan, the puppy, loves it too. It is not only a great way for us to talk and get to know one another, but it is also healthy for us. And I love fun, easy ways to stay fit! I'm sure you do too! So, now that it is getting warmer and stays light out longer, walking is a perfect way for us to spend a good half hour to an hour of our evening together. It's also a great way to get to know your neighborhood, which is fun. Buchanan knows all the neighborhood dogs now and pets are a great way to bond with  your neighbors. Our puppy is very well socialized seeing as our neighbors have everywhere from a chihauhua to a great dane and everything in between as well. So, taking walks is a multi purpose tool. It can be for you as well, for your children making friends, for you to make friends, for a safer more community style neighborhood that gets along well. So, ditch the TV and take a walk!

Lastly, we do things around the house. I love a neat house, I love organizing, and I love taking care of our yard. So, we have time to vacuum a few times a week, clean all the dishes, make our lunches for the next day, mow the lawn at least once a week, keep the counters wiped down, keep the house dusted, and keep everything organized. It has been very helpful for keeping the house and yard in tip top shape! It doesn't take much time each evening just to clean up a bit, but there is no temptation to just sit and watch TV, so it almost always gets done (assuming I didn't get home too late for work or aren't sick or something).

So, that's it! That is what we do with all of our free time. Of course, we do the normal things too like reading, meeting up with friends, going to Bible studies and other church events, and the like. If you need any suggestions or help on fun things to do without television just let me know and we can figure something out, I'm sure!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Planning a Wedding, pt. 4- Escort Cards

I think I am on a bit of a wedding kick right now. I found out my pictures will be in soon, and some friends posted their pictures from the wedding on Facebook, so now I have some to share. So, back to some wedding planning tips, tools, and ideas! Since I am not a big fan of the traditional, I wanted something creative and different for my escort cards. I also wanted something easy for me, since I was doing so much of my own wedding. Again, to stick with the vintage theme, I wanted something old looking. Luckily, this summer we went to visit some of Josh's family who happens to have a large, old barn that I rummaged through. I had been thinking about using old paned windows, and they had some!! They were beautiful! I loved them, so I stole them for a few months :)

This is how the turned out!! So, to get started you need your windows. These are pretty popular right now, so they might be hard to find, but I have seen them in antique shops and thrift stores around here. Once I got my windows, I chose some paper that I liked for the background. I found this at Michael's in a big book of paper, for only $10!! Now I have tons of extra to use for other crafts, and I used some for the programs, and for other crafts I've done on my blog!

Anyway, before you put the paper in, you must choose who is sitting at which table, which is possibly the most difficult part of wedding planning. Once I figured out who was going where, I typed up the table name at the top of the paper (we used author names) and then wrote all the names of guests underneath. I printed out the papers, and then arranged the lists in the window panes in a visually appealing manner. Since I didn't have numbers, they didn't need to go in any certain order, so I didn't need to print the lists on certain paper to look nice. I used tape to place them in the back of the windows, and voila, I was finished! Easy as pie (besides choosing who went where :), and there are my "escort cards." Again, an easy way to save money, but looked great too!

Speaking of saving money, we got a great deal on our guest book! Since I bought my dress at David's Bridal, they sent me a coupon code for a free guest/photo book. It turned out so cute, and all I paid for was shipping. I liked this idea because I had recently been cleaning out my room to prepare for Josh to move into it, and found old guest books for open houses and the like and had no incentive to keep them. Since this guest book has our engagement photos, we will definitely keep it, it's a two for one! And even better news, we have two more coupon codes for photo books from David's Bridal now that the wedding is over for our wedding pictures! Can't wait to use them :) Now, those are some deals!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Planning a Wedding, pt. 3-Wedding Cake Stand

This is another How To for planning your wedding! Since we had a vintage/book theme we used a lot of old stuff for our wedding. One thing that I  particularly enjoyed using was an old chandelier for our cake stand! It was so fun and easy to do!

As you can see above, it turned out really cute!! So, here is what I did! We had been flipping a house before we got married and there was a really ugly chandelier in the dining room.We took it down because it really took away from the room, and I snagged it up, knowing I could use it for something! As the wedding got closer, I realized it could be our cake stand. It worked out so well! We had cheesecake instead of a big cake, so we just put the cheesecake on top of the big part and then after we cut it, we dished out some pieces onto the smaller plates around the edge, and it looked cool! 

The first thing you need to do is find a chandelier. I see these at thrift stores and re-sale shops all the time, so start there. I got lucky since we had one at the house we were flipping. Once you pick one out, you may have to do a little surgery. Mine had tall light bulb things attached, so I had to unscrew the base and then cut these cords that went through them to the base. So, I had to do that six times, once for each of the lights. Once that was done, there was a nice little place for each of my plates to sit. The tall part with the bigger plate was the bottom of the chandelier, so I just had to cut the electric cord from there and it was ready to go. 

Once I got the chandelier the way I wanted it, I spray painted it. I first painted it with a matte black so that the gaudy goldish color wouldn't shine through. Once that was dry, I painted it again with a beige colored crackle spray paint that I found at the craft store. It gave it that old, peely paint vibe that I love. 

And that is all I did!! I just kept it in my wedding room until it was time to go set up the reception hall, and the rest is history. I added some flowers and stuff to the cake table, but overall it turned out great even alone. Here is the final result all close up!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Iowa Interview

Well, I will be leaving tomorrow morning early for the weekend. I won't be back until sometime Monday because my husband has an interview. We are both really excited to see where this takes us. The funny part is that I have been applying for jobs since I graduated from grad school last June, and the only place that took me was a pet store...not exactly using my skills. However, it does help with the bills, so I try not to complain, and I LOVE animals.

Back in February we decided to start applying for jobs all over the country because we wanted to move once we got married. Josh has a degree in youth ministry and mine are in behavioral neuroscience and forensic psychology. The first job I found online for Josh to take a peek at is now the job that has him as a candidate! That means we are going there this weekend after three different interviews (phone, skype, and they came here for an in person) to meet everyone, do Q&A, teach and work with the kids, and hopefully find out that he got the job. He is the only person they are currently looking at for the position. We are really excited, but it is funny how God works. I had been applying to tons of jobs, and couldn't find a thing, and the first thing Josh applies for, he might be getting!

God works in mysterious ways, but lets just hope that this one goes all the way through so that we can start a new adventure together as a married couple! Keep us in your prayers as we travel to a new place, and for God's will in the job :) Can't wait to see what happens! I will update you again on Monday when we should know whether or not he got it!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Life Without TV, pt. 1

I have decided to start a new series about living life without television. Josh and I both enjoy watching TV, but neither of us really feel it is necessary to have in our home. We do have a television set for watching movies and playing video games from time to time, but we have no cable package of any kind.

There are a few different reasons that we chose to stay TV free. First of all, we didn't want to waste the money. We have a small budget, and TV just isn't worth adding into that small budget. Plus, the TV shows we really enjoy can be found on hulu for free. Or we can rent TV shows from the library to watch in full seasons, then you don't have to worry about commercials or waiting from week to week :) So, we decided to use our budget for other things such as fun money and savings instead of cable packages.

Another reason we chose to bypass the TV is because it gives us more time together. Instead of sitting down and flipping through random channels that we don't really care about or follow and just watching to watch, we can spend time doing things together (in my next post I will discuss what kinds of things we do together). More time for each other means a richer, more fun marriage. We get to enjoy one another more often and spend quality time together.

Something else that is extremely helpful without a TV is time for not only each other, but also for other things. Not having a TV gives me more time to work on the house, the yard, errands, and other things that need to get done as an adult. As much fun as it is to enjoy television, it's far more fun to have free time. Without television, I get things done that need to be done around the house and then can enjoy more free time without the distractions of a television.

So, the reasons we decided to forego the TV was to have more quality time together, save money, and keep more time open for things that need to get done around the house. I love keeping on top of things, and this is a great way to do that!

Keep an eye out next week for the next installment of Life Without TV!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Meal Plan #2

Well, like I promised, here is the second meal plan! We will be out of town this weekend for an interview and they are paying for the accommodations and food and everything, so I didn't need to add that in. Also, I forgot to mention last time that our grocery budget also includes toiletries. So, if we run out of a lot of toiletries one week, PBJ, grilled cheese and ramen are on the menu :) And on that note, we have a special budget for our wonderful puppy Buchanan. He gets $30 a month. Maybe one day I will discuss how we spend our money on the little guy, but for now on to the menu!!

                Breakfast: oatmeal
                Lunch: sandwiches/snack
                Dinner: roasted cauliflower, pasta (with olive oil and spices)
                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: sandwiches, chips, fruit
                Dinner: cauliflower puree, pork chops

                Breakfast: toast
                Lunch: sandwiches, chips, fruit
                Dinner:  asparagus risotto, herbed chicken, mashed cauliflower
                Breakfast: oatmeal square
                Lunch: sandwiches/fruit/chips
                Dinner:  cheesy cauliflower tots, pork chops
                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: sandwiches, chips, fruit
                Dinner: rice, beans, and cheese
                Out of Town
                Out of Town

Groceries: cauliflower, 2 heads(3.60), fruit (4.00), bread(.99), pork chops (4.94), lunch meat (4.98), lettuce (2.00), parmesan (2.00), ranch seasoning packet(.69), cream of chicken (.59), chips (1.19), sponges (.99), contact solution (3.19), hot dogs (.90), eggs (.90), yogurt (2.60), shredded cheese (2.79)

Since I add up as I go in the store, I knew I had a few extra dollars, so I picked up an ALDI special (which we love, but they hardly ever have) for 2.79...cinnamon/sugar pretzels. You bake them and they are a yummy dessert! Worked out quite well because our grand total with tax (for contact solution and sponges) was....

Total: 38.74

A very successful trip, that extra money will go toward something else.

For meal ideas check out Meal Plan 1

Gorilla Bread

Last night we tried making Gorilla Bread! I had never heard of it before, and it was an old recipe written down from who knows where, but it turned out super yummy!! So, I thought I'd share it.

20 biscuits from a can (we used two rolls, ten each, walmart brand)
4oz box of cream cheese (1/2  box of the 8oz)
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
pecans for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the stick of butter in small sauce pan until melted and add in the brown sugar until it is nicely melted and mixed. While that is cooking, open the biscuits and use your fingers to press on the biscuits until they flatten out and spread out wider. In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon and sugar. Pour 1/2 tsp of this mix onto each of the twenty biscuits.

Then cut up your cream cheese into 20 pieces. Once they are all sprinkled then place a cube of cream cheese into the middle of each, and wrap up into a little ball.

 Using a bundt plan, sprinkle some of the pecans into the bottom, then place 10 of the balls onto the top of the pecans. Then using half of the butter/brown sugar mixture, pour that on top of the biscuits and sprinkle with half of what is left of the cinnamon/sugar mix. Then layer the next ten and top it off with the rest of the butter/brown sugar mix and cinnamon/sugar mix. Bake for 30 minutes.

Turned out sooo yummy!  Try it out soon :) Let me know what you think of it!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Meal Planning #1

As a newly married couple, we are attempting to save up for quite a few different things. We are trying to pay down my school debt, save for a new car (both of ours are on their last leg), and save towards purchasing a new home one day. All of this while paying the regular bills can seem overwhelming, but with our budget it has helped tremendously. I'm sure there are many others out there who are in a similar situation we are, so I thought I'd write out our weekly meal plans and our grocery list for each of these. We have found that it is possible to have healthy, fun meals for $40 on groceries a week. We don't buy organic or anything like that, we just can't afford it right now, and it isn't the easiest to find around here, anyway. So, we are on our second week of menus right now because we have been married for that long now ( and we didn't have a meal plan on the honeymoon) So, this week you will be getting two meal plans. Today I will post the one from last week and add this week's on Wednesday (hopefully). Also, I save these plans so that I can refer to them or use them again if I'm at a loss for ideas or time :)

Ok, here goes!

                Breakfast: blueberry waffles and eggs
                Lunch: sandwiches/snack
                Dinner: Stuffed artichoke, potatoes, lemon brownies
                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: sandwiches, chips, fruit
                Dinner: Cubs Game with parents
                Breakfast: toast
                Lunch: sandwiches, chips, fruit
                Dinner: asparagus, potatoes; chicken
                Breakfast: oatmeal square
                Lunch: sandwiches/fruit/chips
                Dinner:  olive garden breadsticks, roasted red pepper pasta, asparagus
                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: sandwiches, chips, fruit
                Dinner: orange chicken/rice (crock pot)
                Breakfast: blueberry/lemondonuts
                Lunch: both gone (use fun money for eating out)
                Dinner: leftovers
                Breakfast: donuts
                Lunch: frozen pizza
                Dinner: youth group, snacks

Groceries: dry yeast(2.00), corn starch(2.00), red peppers(1.50), half and half (2.00), feta (2.00), onion(1.00), asparagus(2.00), red potatoes(1.19), fruit (4.00), lunch meat (3.00), chicken (5.00), one lemon(.50), 2 artichokes (2.00), sundried tomatoes, canned (3.00)

This was my list, but since things were on sale and such we were also able to purchase a box of ramen noodles (Josh loves them as a snack if he is hungry, don't know how he doesn't gain weight haha), chips (for Josh's lunch), batteries, a strange type of mango to try for fun, slices of cheese, and a box of cereal.

We had some stuff at the house already because Josh's parents gave us some groceries for when we got home. We already had a loaf of bread, eggs, milk, orange juice, and a few frozen pizzas. However, if we didn't have those items we could have fit them in, instead of the extras we got.

Our grand total of 40.42. We went over 42 cents, but that just means we take it out of  our fun budget or another budget we didn't use. The meals were super yummy, and we have some stuff left over for this week! If you want any of the recipes, just let me know and I can get them for you :) 

Hope this helps! Happy Budgeting!

Lemon Donuts and Lemon Brownies

So, I have been on a major lemon kick this past week. I tried three different lemon recipes: lemon donuts, lemon blueberry cake donuts, and lemon brownies (no chocolate, just lemon bars with the consistency of a brownie and not a lemon bar with a crust...if that makes sense) Good news-they were mostly successful. The lemon donuts were absolutely delicious! Josh and I both enjoyed those a lot, they were soft and fluffy AND I plan to use the recipe again, but with different ingredients to try some new flavors. Plus, they were sooo easy to make. Just make sure you have a donut pan, mine is a mini donut pan so they were cute little guys. We weren't such big fans of the blueberry lemon cake donuts, they were a little to heavy and dense. The consistency was just too much for both of us, but they weren't terrible. Lastly, the lemon brownies: a BIG hit! I made them for our youth group last night and there was only one left, which was great for Josh to take with him to work for his lunch dessert :) So, I'm going to give you TWO recipes today. I didn't get a picture of the lemon brownies, but just imagine a yellow brownie with frosting haha

(The pictures are a combination of the blueberry and this recipe, so ignore the blueberries lol)

Lemon Donuts

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
6 oz plain yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup milk
zest of one half lemon

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
lemon juice from one lemon
zest from lemon

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then set aside. 

In a small bowl whisk together the egg, yogurt, lemon juice, oil, milk, and zest. Add this bowl to the dry ingredients and whisk until completely mixed. 

Now grease donut pans with spray or butter and fill them about half full. I used a spoon to fill them up, and it wasn't bad. Be sure to fill them up only half way as they do rise quite a bit and that cause some of mine to be blobs at the bottom instead of nice donuts :)

Bake for 10 - 15 minutes (depends on if you are making mini donuts or regular donuts, only ten for minis and 15 for normal donuts) then poke with a toothpick and if it comes out clean, it's ready to go. Let cool for a few minutes before adding the glaze.

While baking mix together the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and lemon juice and zest in a small bowl. Drizzle over donuts after they are cool and ENJOY!

Lemon Brownies

3/4 flour
3/4 sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, soft
2 eggs
zest from one lemon
juice from one lemon

1 cup powdered sugar
1 T lemon juice
leftover zest from lemon

Preheat the oven to 350. Use the butter wrapper to grease an 8x8 baking dish.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a large bowl (mixes very easily and quickly). In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, zest, and lemon juice. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together until well combined.

Pour into the greased baking pan. Place in oven and let bake for 22-25 minutes. Use a toothpick to be sure they are done.

Mix together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest for the glaze while they bake. After cooled, pour the glaze over the brownies, and they are ready to go!! So easy, so yummy!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Happy Sunday, everyone! If you don't know this, I enjoy knitting.So, I thought I would tell you my knitting story. It is so fun, and you get a great product once you are done. I don't tackle many big projects because I like to see the final product sooner as opposed to later, so I stick with small projects such as headbands, scarves, mittens, and the like. However, headbands are my favorite! They turn out so cute! The one pictured above was my first ever headband, and the first item I made for myself instead of for other people. It is Purdue colors. The thing that makes headbands so fun is that they are so versatile!

You can add so many fun things to make it cute and girly!! Plus, you can use so many different colors and they still look great. I know this probably just seems like a plug for my products, but I absolutely love knitting and haven't blogged about it yet. I actually started knitting in college when my aunt taught me over Christmas break. I knitted a few things, and then just gave it up because I got so busy doing other things. You know how college life is. When I started grad school, I didn't really enjoy watching TV much, and because I was busy all the time, when I did have free time I felt like I needed to use it wisely. So, I started taking up knitting again. This time around I stuck with it and taught myself all kinds of fun new stuff. Since then, I have taught myself to make hats and mittens. I've learned cool new stitches, and learned to memorize some patterns (headbands included) I didn't attempt a headband until after I finished my first hat and mitten set (which I gave to my now husband for Christmas) and it turned out great!! So, I kept knitting and people kept telling me that they would buy my stuff from me. 

After I finished grad school, I came home and couldn't find a job. This was pretty disheartening, so I began looking for other ways to make money. I tried to be as frugal as possible and began clipping coupons, walking places instead of driving, finding creative ways to have fun without money, and knitting for money! I started my facebook page and threw out the idea of selling my products, and people leapt at the chance to buy my stuff! I was super excited and made a good amount of extra money just from my hobby. I will make a post later about making money from hobbies, but for now you get the general idea. I am still tweaking it and working on how to make it even more lucrative (especially in summer), but it has been a fun experience! Let me know if you are at all interested! And visit Kara's Knits to learn more about my knitted products!

Friday, April 13, 2012

New Book

As many of you probably know, Josh and I are avid readers! We love books, our wedding was book themed, we read the same books and discuss them. Books are a huge part of our world. What you may not know is that we are writing our own book together!! Plus, it is a great way for us to have a fun bonding experience during our first year as newlyweds. We have a fun project to go to when we are bored (since we don't have TV) and to just have together time. It isn't going to be ready for a long time, but we have a trilogy in mind. So, if you like fantasy novels that are just for fun reading, then you will love this book! I will be advertising it on here from time to time to hopefully keep your interest piqued for when it is released. Also, I would love people to review our book for amazon, goodreads, whatever when it does come out. So let me know if you are interested in doing that!! Thanks :)

Vodka Cream Pasta

So, I decided to try a vodka cream sauce finally, and it was yummy!!  I paired this dish with the quinoa spinach salad and some baked bread (which we dipped in olive oil and spices) This is how it turned out!

Vodka Pasta Sauce Recipe

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup vodka
1 cup vegetable stock
1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
Coarse salt and pepper
16 oz pasta, such as penne rigate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Heat a skillet over moderate heat. Add the olive oil, butter, and garlic powder. Let it heat up for a minute to let flavors infuse. Add the vodka to the pan. Let the vodka reduce by half, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and the tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta in boiling water. Usually around ten minutes, just check every now and then to be sure it is done the way you like it. While the pasta was cooking, I made my salad and tossed the bread in the oven.

Stir the cream into the sauce. When the sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from the heat. Drain the pasta. Toss the hot pasta with the sauce and sprinkle on the basil and parmesan cheese. 

This is my version of this sauce, but it is adapted from this website:

It is so yummy! Thanks Rachael Ray for your great food :) I just had to make mine vegetarian and take out things the hubby doesn't like to make it perfect for our family! Enjoy!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Baked Oatmeal On-The-Go

I enjoy things that are simple. I like to make life easier on myself so that I can enjoy every moment, which is why I enjoy organization. I also enjoy planning ahead and preparation. So, when I stumbled upon a recipe which created baked oatmeal that was portioned out, I couldn't wait to try it! Having breakfast pre-baked would cut down on time in the morning before work, and just make life easier. I found this recipe on Pinterest and decided to try it out. (You can find the original recipe here: Sugar Free Mom) Now, I don't have a problem with any special diet, but I know GF is really important for a lot of people and I didn't use sugar in these either so it is a really great, healthy recipe. This is how mine turned out:

They may not look super pretty, but they did taste great! So, here is the recipe that I used, I believe it is tweaked a little from the original:

2 eggs
2 cups applesauce, unsweetened
5 cups Old Fashioned rolled oats
1 banana, mashed
2 3/4 cups milk (I used skim)
1 cup honey
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
Optional toppings: coconut, butterscotch chips, maple syrup, chocolate chips

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While it is heating up mix eggs, vanilla, applesauce, banana and honey together in a bowl. Add in oats, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon and mix well with wet ingredients. Finally pour in milk and combine.

Spray a 12 and 6 capacity muffin tin with cooking spray or use cupcake liners ( I just sprayed the pan). Pour mixture evenly into muffin tin cups. If using toppings add them onto the tops of muffins now. If using fresh or frozen fruit, drop it right into the batter.

Bake 30 minutes until a toothpick in center comes out clean. Cool and enjoy or freeze them in gallon freezer bags.
Now, I followed these directions, but I think I would add my toppings afterward. It seemed that mine got burnt while baking. The toppings I tried were butterscotch chips, coconut, maple syrup, brown sugar, and plain. I would also try some with dried fruit and nuts next time if I have it. Also, make sure to keep these stored in an air tight container in the fridge, or keep them frozen until you are ready to eat them. I found they were so moist that they were prone to molding, so just be careful. There are 143 calories in each if you yield 18 muffins! Not so bad, and since I like about 300 calories for breakfast, I sometimes grab two if I don't have time for fruit :) Plus, it does have banana in it so that counts, right? 

I also made a couple of big muffins just for fun. These are about twice as big as the regular ones, and my husband loved them! Also, his favorite flavor was when I added some butterscotch chips.(pictured below)


Friday, April 6, 2012

Our Wedding Gift

Josh (my new husband) and I enjoy being frugal. We don't need the finer things in life to be happy. We believe in practicality and while we understand why people enjoy luxuries, it's just not our thing. So, when we were talking about possible wedding gift ideas for one another we decided to go the cheap route and pass on it. We figured spending more money on our honeymoon or for our new home or something like that would be more fun. Plus, what do you purchase for people who don't particularly desire extras? I don't wear jewelry or perfume, neither does he. Seemed like an easy decision.

Then one day I was perusing my Pinterest pins and stumbled across an idea to give dates to someone. Originally I saw it as giving dates as a Christmas gift and saw something else similar as a wedding gift to a young couple. So, I thought why not give each other that gift! It seemed perfect the more I thought about it because so many people had warned us to make sure to make time for one another. Warned us not to get sucked into thinking we would see more of each other just because we would finally be living together. This idea not only would be fun, but also helps us to remember to make time for each other no matter what. Although, that hasn't been a problem yet!! Plus, it was something we would spend money on anyway because what we do spend money on is experiences. So, I proposed that we make each other 6 months worth of dates each. We decided to split up the months every other month and placed our ideas, some money if needed, and some accessories for the dates in envelopes and labeled them by month. For the first year of our marriage we will have a surprise date each month that we get to open and pick a good time to go! So, each month once we open our dates I will share them with you for some inspiration!

On the first day of our honeymoon we opened up April (since our honeymoon began April 1st) and I found that we had $20 to go purchase food for a midnight or sunrise picnic of our choice. We were to go purchase whatever food we wanted and go find a fun picnic spot at our choice. We thought it could be fun on our honeymoon, but upon arriving it seemed we didn't have a great view of the sunrise because of all the trees and then we thought a midnight picnic might be a bad idea because of the bears. So, we technically haven't used this one yet, but I can't wait until we do!! I will post pictures of our date when we do!

Also, for those of you interested in this idea check out these great blogs where you can be inspired the way I was!

Find Joy In The Journey
Tip Junkie

Also, when choosing my dates, I used some sites for ideas for cool dates and just tweaked them to fit our personalities. Marie ClaireThe Mom CrowdLove Actually Blog, and Friday, We're In Love all gave me some great ideas for dates. They have so many ideas in fact, that I just might have to use this as a birthday or Christmas gift again in the future to keep on using these date ideas!!!

April Date: Snacks and hot tub at midnight on our honeymoon!
May Date: Movie, dinner, then snacks and star gazing
June Date: $20 B&N gift card, go buy a book we think looks good and read it together
July Date: Picnic in a park, card games, and a "Together List"
August Date:
September Date:
October Date:
November Date:
December Date:
January Date:
February Date:
March Date:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Planning a Wedding Pt. 1-Invitations

If you're like me, you like to save money. And I really like to save money. So, one thing I did for my wedding to save money was to make my own invitations. It is sooo much cheaper (I saved hundreds making them and printing them myself) and they turned out great! Now, the reason I made more than one style of invitation is because I used what I had. The cardstock was something that i had at home, and since it was different, I made different invitations. Lucky for me, my mother-in-law does Stampin' Up and has tons of rubber stamps and ink options, so I didn't even need to buy the cool stamps to make them pretty. In fact, the only purchase I made for these was ribbon and I guess my ink cartridge which didn't even get used up all the way. So, if you total some ribbon (I bought 4 spools) and a black ink cartridge I spend about $30 altogether. And considering just to get them printed would have cost me $200, I think that is quite the deal!! As for envelopes, I also had those and just made clear address labels with everyone's addresses which was quick and easy, and looked great. I think I spent another $15 on the address and return address labels for the invitations and RSVP cards.

So, my advice to you....look around on pinterest, theknot, wherever you want for inspiration, and then figure out how to make them yourself! It is worth the time, plus it is a great way to get your bridesmaids involved in your wedding!!

Let me know if you have questions or need inspiration!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Newly Married Budgeting

Well, it has finally happened. We got married!

Although it seemed like forever in waiting, it was done so quickly! I am very happy it has finally happened and we can just enjoy being married now. I woke up earlier than Josh on our honeymoon, so of course, I thought I'd update my blog while I waited for him to wake up so we can get pancakes :) Anyway, I thought I'd write about budgeting today..or at least the beginning of budgeting.

When I was single, I was the queen of budgeting!! I lived off of $90-120 a month after my stupid student loan bill each month. Now, I was lucky enough to not pay rent or insurance due to my age and my car is already paid off. So, I wasn't making a ton of sacrifices besides no internet or cable. Luckily, I love to read. All I really needed to ration my money for was food and gas. This seemed ludicrous to many of my friends, but getting out of student loan debt was a much higher priority for me than going out or using my money on frivolous items. I know this doesn't seem possible to many people, but it is a great lesson in discipline and will probably come in handy as a newlywed and when we have children. So, my tips to budgeting as a new couple.

1) Sit Down TOGETHER and figure out your income

Now, this may seem obvious, but a lot of people don't really know what they make each month or each year. I prefer to do a monthly budget, although I have recently read an article stating that a yearly budget makes people more cautious about overspending and so they give themselves less spending money and more budgeted money. That does make sense to me, but it also seems unrealistic because even after you make a yearly budget, you would divide it out to figure out how much you have a week or month to spend. In my mind it all adds up in the end. When you start figuring out your income, remember everything!! Because I don't make much money at my job, I have begun looking for other ways to provide income for myself including selling my knitted goods and using trusted survey companies(neither of these gives steady income, so I don't count them, but they are important to remember once your budget is up and running). Once you add together your income, you are ready to start your budget.

2) Sit down TOGETHER and figure our your outcome

Now that you are figuring out your expenses each month, don't forget a thing. Otherwise you could have a big problem on your hands. I suggest using a book or downloadable budget guide from the internet. Luckily, our book that was required for pre-marital counseling (which I highly recommend to do together) included a budget section. There were, of course, many sections we don't need yet or may never need, but it broke down so many different categories and was extremely helpful in jogging our memories for this we spend money on monthly. Some of these things include car insurance, car payments, cell phone bills, utilities (including garbage, water, electric), rent, fun money, restaurants, groceries, movies, clothes, student loans, credit card bills, savings, gifts, children costs, pet costs....and the list goes on and on. Make sure you have all of these areas written down before you start allocating money because it goes fast once you start.

3) Time to allocate the funds

Once you figure out where all your money is going, realistically choose how you split up your monthly payments. When I say realistically, I mean this in a couple ways. First, make sure you are giving enough money to each category. Obviously, this is extremely important or you will be in a world of hurt when paying your bills. On the other hand, when you are first starting out you may have to cut down on some costs. Let's say you used to buy coffee every morning before work. Now that you have a house payment, perhaps purchasing coffee at the store to make at home would be a better option ( I am full of ways to cut down on bills and the like which I will write about another time). I certainly don't think that you have to get rid of everything fun in life, but remember that when money is short, the necessities outweigh the frivolities. This seems like a simple concept, but I see people struggling with that every single day. If money is tight one month, cut the grocery spending and live off of rice, beans, and in season produce. It may not seem luxurious, but it will reduce your chances of adding up debt. And who wants debt because of their food bill?

If money is not short for you budget, that is awesome news! Then budgeting is an awesome way for you to save, save, save for fun things such as vacations, new "toys", having kids, or all sorts of things.

4) Write down EVERYTHING!

This may seem like a small detail, or something that can be overlooked, but it's not. Writing down everything is extremely important. Especially when there are two people who are doing this together. You each need to be responsible together about what you are spending. If you don't write it all down in the same place, then there could be big problems. I know that things come up and someone needs to spend an extra dollar or two here and there, but those things add up, so write them down. This also includes extra income you may have gotten that month. When I sell a knitted item, I write that down and add it towards another category. It depends on the month where I place it. If I needed extra grocery money because I had to take food to a party, then I add it there. Sometimes I can add it to pay more on my student loan, or if I am trying to save up for something I add it to my savings. Just evaluate your income for the month, and choose the best place to put extra income. Once again, write down where you put that extra money so you can see how your budget is working for you. This is another good reason to write everything down. If you see that you are spending a lot less in a certain area, then start putting that money toward something else. If it seems you are always right on the cusp for another area, try to re-allocate to better suit your needs. Having a budget is a process, and figuring out the best way for it to work for you is important. Just keep trying together to make it work!

If you have any questions, just let me know!!

*On  a side note, I know these tips don't take credit cards into consideration. My philosophy is to have a credit card for emergencies only. I never use my credit card because it is too easy to fall into a trap with a card since you don't see the money disappearing. I highly suggest using cash for your budgeting. If you have to use envelopes to divide it out, then do it. Like I said, find a system that works for you!