Monday, February 25, 2013

A Fun Way to Make Some Money

Good Morning Everyone!!! I don't know about you, but I enjoy making easy money every once in awhile. If you have been following me for awhile, you will remember that I once wrote a post about ways that I save money. One of those ways was adding some income and Swagbucks is one way that I do this.

Swagbucks works by giving you "bucks" for different things you do on their website. For example, every day I go to the homepage and answer a daily poll question, and follow a No Obligation Special Offer trail where I click "No, Thanks" a few times and then I get some bucks!

So, every day I am guaranteed at least 3 bucks. Then I also use this website as a search engine instead of google which can randomly win bucks and also watching videos, doing surveys, clipping coupons, and many other things give you those bucks. If you are at all interested in signing up you can use the previous link or this link which is a referral link. You can also refer your friends and family and you will be given your own link and can get bucks from them if they sign up. Let me know if you have any questions I would be more than happy to help. Also, the Swagbucks Facebook page is a great resource :)

Have a great day!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Bringing Indian Food Home

How many of you like Indian food out there? It seems to be very hit or miss, but in this household it is a very big hit! We love Indian food, and one of our favorite restaurants in the area is an Indian restaurant. We love it so much, we decided to try making it at home for a date night. It can get pretty expensive to eat it at a restaurant often, but the ingredients at home aren't so bad. For this particular meal we made a variety of recipes. We have chicken mukany, aloo gobi, naan, jasmine rice and dal. We usually wouldn't eat this much, but it was a date night and we wanted to go all out, then we had to try each dish so it looks like a lot.

We will start today with my personal favorite....Aloo Gobi! This is a tasty vegetarian dish made from cauliflower and potatoes. Pictured on the bottom left next to the naan and across from the rice if this seems completely foreign to you. I found this recipe on!

1/4 cup olive oil
1 white onion, diced
1 head of cauliflower
3 potatoes
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp ginger
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garam masala


Heat oil in an large pan. Add the onion and cumin to pan, stir until onions are golden. In the meantime, chop potatoes and cauliflower into large chunks. Then add turmeric and salt. Add tomatoes, ginger, and garlic and mix thoroughly. Then add the cauliflower and potatoes. Stir until fully coated in sauce.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes for potatoes to fully cook. Then add garam masala. Let sit for awhile before serving, it really get the flavors mixed together.

This was a serious hit! I love aloo gobi and it's so easy to make at home :) Even the husband liked this veggie side dish!

Friday, February 8, 2013

My First Try At Homemade Bread

I know, I know. If you cook so much how on earth have you not tried bread before now? Well, let me clear this up. I have made bread. I've made some delicious zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, and any kind of bread with no yeast necessary, but I've always been so afraid of yeast! Silly, I know. Even sillier now that I know how easy it is to make bread on my own!! So, I tried making my very own sandwich bread, and let me tell you I hope I never have to go back to store bought. It is so tasty, easy, and so much less stuffed with words I can't pronounce that I can't imagine buying it again :) So, with that being said you should definitely try this out yourself!

I found this recipe on Pinterest from this Blog 

Here is how mine turned out:

SUPER TASTY!!! Also, it made two loaves, so that is even more exciting :)

3 cups luke warm water
1 packet instant rise yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 Tbsp salt
6-7 cups flour

To start, mix the water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. I let it sit about 10 minutes, if you use fast rise/instant yeast you probably don't need to let it sit, but I do anyway. Then add oil. Add all the dry ingredients together and mix until smooth.

Begin kneading dough until everything is well incorporated and smooth. If it feels too sticky, add a little more flour. The dough should be slightly sticky and should also pull away from the sides of the bowl. Then set in the oven covered with the light on until it rises to the top of the bowl.

Remove from oven, punch the dough down. Divide the dough into two loaf pans. Then let rise again until it reaches about an inch above the pans.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Let bake for 25 minutes until a nice golden color. Remove from oven, immediately remove from pans and place on cooling rack.

Eat when warm if you can bear to touch it ;) So tasty with some good whipped honey or jam! Yummo! Also, we used it as sandwich bread all week and it was such a hit with both myself and my husband all week long!

Have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

This Week's Menu

Hello! We were out of town all weekend which always gets me a little behind. Then today I had someone come in to evaluate my class, which is routine, but also pretty frightening. So, as much as I wanted to stay on top of this more, there will just be days that I miss between posts :) Today I am posting our weekly meal plan and what we are purchasing. If you don't remember we stay within $45 a week. It used to be $50, but with tax increases our budget has changed a bit. It has been interesting staying within these means with buying healthier food, but I haven't had a problem so far. So, here it is...

                Breakfast: smoothie
                Lunch:  rice and beans
                Dinner:  date night...Noodles & Co with our birthday coupon!
Dessert:  chocolate muffins
                Breakfast:  lime greek yogurt
                Lunch:  cheese sticks and kashi bar
                Dinner:   black beans, corn cakes
                Breakfast:   greek yogurt
                Lunch:    chili, cornbread
                Dinner:   chicken with sundried tomato basil sauce, cauliflower steak
                Breakfast:  cereal
                Lunch:   cheese stick, granola bar
                Dinner:  chili, cornbread
                Breakfast:  smoothie
                Lunch:  creamy avocado rice
                Dinner:  tacos
                Breakfast: smoothie
                Lunch: PBJ
                Dinner: cauliflower gratin, hamburgers
                Breakfast: yogurt
                Lunch: cheese sticks, granola bar
                Dinner:   on your own! leftovers from freezer

Groceries: cheese sticks (2.49), kidney beans (.59), white beans (.59), black beans (1.2), bananas (2.00), otis spunkmeyer (coupon), atkins meal (coupon), avocado(.39), milk(1.49), cauliflower(1.69), greek yogurt (3.29), tortillas(1.69), rice(1.79), lime juice (.99), frozen fruit(2.19), sugar (1.42), lunch meat (2.49), popcorn (1.88), orange juice-2 (1.88) rice cakes-2(2.6), shredded cheddar (2.99)

Grand Total: 33.72...even some to spare! I may just have to use that for something fun for my hubs for valentine's day :)

You may notice some random items on the list, these are free coupons I have gotten in the mail and even though they aren't particularly healthy, an unhealthy snack from time to time isn't going to kill us, and in fact, it might even help us stay on the path to eating more healthy food without feeling burned out. Also, there are things we already have in our pantry like sundried tomatoes which I make myself, I will post on it someday probably. Also, I make my own bread now so I know what is in it, which is why we don't purchase any bread for sandwiches. Again, I know this is not perfect health wise, but we are trying to incorporate more real foods into our diet and decrease sugar and processed food. We can't afford all organic, but perhaps one day we will. For now, we have seen the changes just by eating normal portion sizes and eating less processed food!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Flipping A House

My husband and I have been on this little adventure before...fixing up a house. Although last time it was much more work and he did most of it since I was still in graduate school. This time around, we fixed up a home for us to live in, not just sell. Being able to put down such a large down payment was thanks to our previous flip, and so all that hard work really was such a blessing. This time, the hard work is a blessing because we get to live there!!

Let's take a look at that process. In September we closed on a little three bedroom ranch with a partially finished basement. It wasn't perfect, it wasn't our favorite house that we had looked at, and it didn't really have much character, but we looked past that at what it could become. Now, it has become so much more, and while we are still working on adding our own character to the house, it has come such a long way! It's almost time to hit up those thrift stores for the items we are missing. I don't want to sound materialistic because we have plenty of stuff, but since hospitality is one of my spiritual gifts and my husband is a youth pastor, we do have lots of people coming over all the time. That means while I like to keep it simple, we do want the basics like plenty of seating, a place for shoes/coats, and that sort of thing. We are working our way there as we speak. So, let's take a look! We will start with the guest bedroom on the main floor. It began as a purple and white room with PAINTED HARDWOOD FLOORS! I mean, that should just be illegal! Who paints gorgeous original oak flooring from the 40s?!?! So, the guest bedroom had to be primed, repainted, some window glass taken out and replaced, windows repainted, and floors refinished! In the end, I am super happy with it! You can't see it, but the wall across from the bed has a beautiful old book shelf and my wedding wall complete with an old windows used in the wedding with wedding pics, an E for our last name, a canvas pic from the wedding, and a shadow box with my leftover flowers, garter, hairpiece, programs, etc. Might be one of my favorite rooms!

 Then we have the bathroom. This is the room in the house (along with the kitchen) that adds the most value to your home. It is also the most work oftentimes :) This time around we gutted out that old, nasty tiling, ripped out the sliding door, plumbing, insulation, toilet, and sink. We put in new insulation (the old was original from the 40s made of cotton and like an inch thick..not real warm) We also changed out the window for a nice new one. We covered the insulation with hardy backer, then tile, then grout. We added in the plumbing, a new sink, and a new toilet. Also, a new floor. My poor hubby had to scrape up four layers of stick on tiles/old laminate/etc to get to the bottom where we could add in our new laminate. I have two collages for that so you can see the many different angles.

One of the more shocking rooms was our master bedroom. It was painted darkest gray and BLACK! All of it! The ceiling and floor were black, the walls were super dark gray, it was DARK! Not the comforting place meant to spend time with the love of your life. So, we ripped down the old, yellow blinds, primed the whole thing, scraped up the nasty stick on tiles off our hardwood floor and got to work! We repainted everything, refinished the floor, fixed up the windows and wah-la! A brand new room. Still using gray, but in a much friendlier, happy way :)
 We also refinished our kitchen and dining room. The dining room was mostly ripping out carpet and painting and the kitchen included new appliances (there were none when we bought it), painting, and new hardware for the cabinets. The hubs is going to build me some more cabinets sometime soon to add more space because he loves me :)

I am thinking about doing a post of how to refinish hardwood floors, but I didn't take many pictures since it was so dusty and you need to do most steps pretty quick. If you have any questions about our projects or if you'd like to see one featured on this blog just let me know! I'd be happy to share how we did anything in our home to help you!!

The basement will be coming along in the next few months, but we are going to Germany on our one year anniversary trip (two months after our anniversary because of work) but we are saving up money and busy planning so we might have to wait a bit to really finish down there which will include an office area, third bedroom (yes, it is legal), and our living area. Until then, happy flipping :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The World is A Funny Place

Hello World!!! So, it has been awhile since I've been on here. In fact, it has been a very long while! Five months to be honest! I can't believe it myself, but in all reality life took over for awhile. I'm not sure how often I will be back on here, but I miss writing. So, thank you to those of you who have been faithful to my blog and thanks for stopping by in my absence. I am shocked how many people have viewed my blog even when I'm not taking care of it actively.

So, what's been going on....

First, we bought a house, fixed her up, and finally moved in! We moved in the week after Thanksgiving and it has been such a blessing. Our next step is to finish our basement which is well on its way. We mostly just need to do some painting and carpet then filling it up! I will post some before and after pictures of the house in case you are interested in what we've been doing.

Second, I got a new job. I had been pretty stressed and unhappy with my job as a brain injury specialist and really wanted to take time to be with my husband more and to focus on church, our youth group, and the house. It has been working out great, but I was offered a position at a local community college to teach Intro to Psych. I have really been enjoying it and it is such few hours that it has worked perfectly for us!

Third, we are trying to eat much healthier than we were eating before, so you might see a change in my recipes...for the good :) Both the hubs and I have lost about 8 pounds since Christmas eating healthier and exercising a little more regularly. I am also trying very hard to up my protein intake since I am a vegetarian and I've noticed how much more full I feel even with less calories. Also, my skin looks better eating less processed food, I have more energy, and I just generally feel better. I started running again with this life change (because we have a gym I can use at the college, yeay perks!) and I am making an effort to drink more water! Overall, it has been going really well. I have been able to eat sweet stuff when necessary and I eat low fat, low processed treats with high protein like natural string cheese for snacks. Anyway, if you can't tell I am very excited about this change.

Well, I guess that is all for now. I am so glad to say that I will be seeing you soon! Let me know how you've all been doing lately :) Thanks for your allegiance!!