Welcome to Penny Pinching Mom

Throughout this blog, you will find meal plans, date night ideas, daily routines, preschool activities, natural cleaning products, crafting and so much more. Essentially, I want to share how I make "everyday tasks" into something to look forward to - except for mopping floors, you're on your own for that one!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Leftover Soup

For a long time, now, I have been trying to get organized with a meal plan.  Last year I found this book called More Time Mom's Family Meals.  It has 6 weeks of meals with a shopping list for each week.  This worked for a while but it just didn't fit out family's needs.  I'm a vegetarian (the rest of the family eats both kinds of meals), and most of the meals have meat in them and I am not that good at translating the recipes into meat-free. 

Since finding that book, I have decided to eat more "clean" diet.  No refined sugar, very little processed/pre-packaged foods and no artificial preservatives.  On top of that, my husband is making HUGE changes to his eating habits and for the next little while we need to avoid pasta (as the main dish), casseroles and heavy sauces.  Quite simply the perfectly organized meal plan I want to create has a whole lot of random restrictions!

So, for now, I am going to try to break down what I want to accomplish and work on each goal separately:
1. Use every leftover.
2. Double 1 meal every 2 weeks so it can be frozen for a later date.
3. Start a "Freezer Meal Exchange" group.
4. Come up with a meal plan every week, for 6 weeks.
5. Create a ready made shopping list for each of the 6 weeks.

Task #1 (and #4)
Freezer soup.

One of my friends showed me how she adds leftovers to a container that is left in the freezer.  I thought that was a great idea but at the time I was intimidated by cooking so the idea was stored away.  Now, I think I am ready to do it - I mean it can't be any worse then it is right now! If the soup turns out gross then it gets thrown out - just the same as all those leftovers getting thrown out now...

On the menu this week:
  • Moroccan Chickpea Stew with couscous {recipe from a good friend}
  • Broccoli, whole roasted chicken/pan fried tofu with salt and pepper, carrots, butternut squash and potato
  • Orange marinated salmon, mixed salad (with homemade dressing), rice {recipe: More Time Mom's}
  • Beef/tofu stir fry with peppers and rice noddles {recipe: More Time Mom's}
  • Asparagus and cheese quiche with whole wheat pie crust and salad{pie crust recipe}

As for the soup...
I feel like I still need a plan so I started with some veggie broth and added the leftover carrots, broccoli and chicken.  I will add either some leftover rice or rice noodles (depending how the stir fry is made). I usually just make veggie puree soups but this one will be more like a chicken noodle with chunks of veggies. Not sure if that is enough for 2 3/4 servings of soup but we will see!

p.s. Just in case you are curious: I don't eat chicken but I try to have a serving of fish twice a month. This will be the first time, in a long time, that I have had meat in my soup...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A slow weekend {Weekend Reading}

So, I kinda have an easy going weekend planned...
  • The big boys (Daddy and friends) are playing road hockey and if the weather co-operates I may take the kiddies to the park.
  • Salsa dancing with the girls
  • Church (without teaching Sunday School)

I do hope to get some work done though.  The whole family had a stomach bug this week and I have a lot of catching up to do.

When I'm not working on editing photos and planning birthdays I would love some solid time to read some blogs!

Looking for some entertainment this weekend?

Love and Lullabye songs and stories:: Perfect Parties
Fort Friday:: All For the Boys
Sunday Sweets:: Cake Wrecks
How To Make Cheese:: Eating Rules
The Date Wheel:: The Dating Divas

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Community Helpers {Preschool Printables}

Ginger is really into playing "Lady". This is her blanket term for any kind of community worker - librarian, cashier, etc, photographer...

I have been really slacking in the kindergarten prep department so I got to work!

Normally, I have a collection of awesome online resource that I can just click and print.  This time, I wanted to have some printable that was a mix of various community helpers.  I could find lots of firefighter stuff, lots of police officer stuff and lots of doctor stuff.  I wasn't interested in getting into too much detail so I started pulling bits and pieces from here and there. 

You know, it's funny that when I was working in the classroom full time, I had an hour a week to prep for the next week and it was plenty of time.  Now, only got a couple games and worksheets made up in 2 hours! Shameful! :)

I thought I would share the printables I have created.  I just print these off and add them to a duo tang binder - then she just pulls out the binder and works on pages as she pleases.  Later, I will post the activities and games we come up with.
This is my first attempt at Google Documents so I am not sure how this will go!




Thursday, February 23, 2012

Red's Dedication

The Dedication 
Wondering around during the service!

A Noah and the Ark music box.

I created this invite with a Photoshop template.  I really tried to find the template so I could give credit to the designer, but I just can't find it again.  I am a big fan of emailing invitations.  No wasted paper, no lost invite because it fell off your fridge and no wasted $$.  I will call the people that may not have email or if I know they don't check their email often.

Big spender loves an excuse to prepare 20lbs of meat!  Luckily for our budget, I had purchased some ribs and steaks a couple of months ago and stuck them into the deep freezer.

He made:- Ribs
- Steak Skewers
- Meatballs in Diana sauce (in the crock pot)
We bought:
- Greek Pasta Salad, Egg Salad, Potato Salad
- Hotdogs (bleh!)
- Shrimp ring

For the ribs:
He used a dry rub recipe from the book The Barbecue! Bible.

Steak Marinade:
T-Bone Tom's Choice Steak Marinade
Recipe courtesy Barry Terrell, owner of T-Bone Tom's in Kemah, TX.
Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 10 hr 0 min
Cook Time: --
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 servings
Mix all ingredients in bowl, and marinate steaks overnight or for 10 hours in refrigerator. Makes enough marinade for 4 steaks.

Table Decorations
Food Signs
I used the bottom of the invitation to create little "food signs" (is there a real word for these?).
I literally covered a glass applesauce jay with blue tissue paper and stuck a big wooden skewer in it.  I taped a photo of Red onto the skewer and presto-blamo, we have a centerpiece!

Tissue paper pom poms

I used this video...

...and this blog...

pom poms
...to figure out how to make them.

Did you know that orange coloured tissue paper is NOT a popular colour? I was all over the city trying to find it!

Dollarama: Nothing. 
Random Convienience Store: Nope
Zellers: Zip. 
New Walmart: Zilch.
Michael's: Zero! - Come on Michael's... really!?!

I am glad I had the smarts to call Party Packagers (in Ancaster) before driving out there!  Honestly, if they didn't have it, I might have cried... over orange tissue paper... stoooopid Walmart!... I mean tissue paper ;)

None the less, we had an awesome gathering of awesome people who will love and support our little Red.  We are so blessed to have such supportive family members and friends.  If our support circle wasn't so large, we would have so many more struggles than we tend to think we do.  Our kids make our life full - our family makes it happen.  Love you all!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Take care of your golf balls first...the rest is just sand!

I came across this story on Facebook, the other day, and it has really stuck with me.  Our family has gone through a lot in the last couple of years and we are starting to pick up the pieces.  I was so consumed with all the things I was expected to accomplish in the day that I let it overwhelm me.  I knew it was important to take time for myself but how could I ever enjoy "me time" when I wasn't making time for my own family (let alone good friends)?!  These days, the house is under control  - within reasonble expectaions ;) - and  important relationships are mending. I think its time I thought about my priorities without making excuses why I can't work within them.

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee.

 A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and fills it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “YES”.

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things - dreams, family, health, friends, and favorite passions. Things, that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else - the small stuff.” he said.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you...” he told them.

“So... pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Worship with your family. Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Spend time with good friends. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap. Take care of the golf balls first -- the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled and said, “I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Project 365 {January Jewels}

Have you heard of Project 365? I posted about it a couple of weeks ago.  I have actually surprised myself and have been taking a photo everyday!  I actually started taking my daily photos on the 19th but I had to get my cell phone replaced (which is a whole other post!) and my photos didn't get transferred to my new phone.

Would you like to see a couple of my favourites?

Last photo of Red and his soother

This what happens when you wake up at 5am: a 9am nap!

Dinner out at the resort

Dinner out at the resort in the Dominican
Watching the Michael Jackson Impersonators

Me and my fancy hat

He wasn't really crying but the camera captured the spilling milk perfectly!

Welcome home Mommy! I just wanted to show you how much I love your oatmeal!

Showing off her dance moves
I love that this project is kind of forcing me to slow down and enjoy the little moments - the important moments.

What's your favourite part of the day?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

You Can't Eat a Princess!

I honestly thought, Ginger wouldn't be interested in princesses! I have this crazy dislike for all things pink and I thought she wouldn't be influenced by the world of the princess... at least until she went to school. Boy, was I wrong.

 So, it's no surprise she asks for a princess book, EVERY time we go to the library.  I am not usually a fan of most of the princess themes- until we found this book:

You Can't Eat a Princess!
You Can't Eat a Princess

A princess in outer space! A princess rescuing the King!? Madness! and awesomeness - all rolled up in one ;)

Princess Spaghetti is getting ready for a party but the King is missing!  She finds a note, left by some aliens, that they have captured the King.  This mean Princess Spaghetti must ride the royal rocket (hmmmm sounds dirty!) and rescue the King.  Once she lands on the new planet, she discovers the aliens want to eat her and and the King!  But, she has a delicious alternative waiting at the palace...

Now I need to find the "perfectly piratey swashbuckling" version!

You Can't Scare a Princess!
You Can't Scare a Princess

Do you and your little reader enjoy reading the same books or do you have different tastes?