Saturday, June 6, 2009

Perennial Plant Exchange

This year I was able to expand my flower gardens for free through a plant exchange that my hubby's co-workers do every year.

How it works is they plan a day in the spring that they bring into work plant clippings or seeds and exchange them for other plants or seeds that others have brought from their gardens. Basically they share the wealth of the plants that they have thinned out or divided or just do not want any more.

This year we trade some daylilies for....

TWO mini Hostas

an Autumn Joy Sedum

this gigantic Hosta!

We also got some shasta daisy seeds so that I can start some more plants.

I love this concept of the plant exchange because I am able to fill in holes in my flower gardens and get some variety of plants rather than just dividing or thinning out the plants to compost them or having to buy new seedlings.

Have you done this concept before with a neighbor or friend?

Weekly Shopping Trip--Savings $58.22

This week, I was just after some of deals along with getting milk, eggs and fresh fruit. There was a few deals with coupons that I just could not pass up.

I was able to stay under my $100 weekly budget goal for this week! I think it is safe to say that doing the pantry challenges over the last couple of months, I have successfully figured out how to cut my weekly grocery budget from $150 to $100 each week! With my family of seven, being heavy meat-eaters and having no garden I do not think I can cut the weekly budget down much more. However, I might be trying to in the next few months to see what I can do to decrease the spending each week.

So here is what I purchased this week for under $100:

Family Fare: (2 trips)

1st trip:

  • 2 gallons milk $3.96

Total OOP: $3.96
Total Savings: $2.02
Total without sales & coupons: $5.98

2nd trip:

  • 3 lbs stick margarine $2.25
  • 3 lbs carrots $2.37
  • 4.95 lbs pork loin $7.87 (sliced for pork chops)
  • 3.02 lbs chicken drumsticks $2.99
  • 2 lbs bacon $4.98
  • 3 dozen eggs $2.94
  • 2.79 lbs bananas $1.65
  • 1 bottle Sunny Delight Smoothie 45¢

Total OOP: $24.94
Total Savings: $19.31
Total without sales & coupons: $44.25

  • 4 boxes Jiffy Muffin Mix $3.16
  • 3.71 lbs ground round $7.38
  • 12 cups yogurt $5.10
  • 1 lb strawberries $1.34
  • 2 pks mini Warm Delights $2.88
  • 1 family pk breaded fish $4.99
  • 1 bag Betty Crocker cookie mix $1.17
  • 4 tubes Grands Biscuits $4.40
  • 2 tubs Edys Dibs $4.00
  • 2 boxes Icecream drumsticks $4.00
  • 2 boxes Chex Mix bars $3.47
  • 4 Tombstone pizzas $11.32
  • 3 boxes General Mills cereal $5.00

Total OOP: $58.21
Total Savings: $36.89
Total without sales & coupons: $95.10

Grand Total OOP: $87.11
Grand Total Savings: $58.22
Grand Total without sales & coupons: $145.33

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Glimpse of my Flower Garden!

Other than having seasonal allergies and dealing with Cottonwood "air floaties" getting stuck to everything, I love this time of year when everything is green and blooming!!

I have a rose bush at the front corner of the house that was left at the house by the previous owners--It is HUGE--like 6 feet tall! and every year we get dozens of roses in two different blooming periods(once late spring/early summer and then late summer/early fall) Here is the first bloom!! It is sooo fragnant!
Here is another bloom on that same rose bush! At last count there was 15 blooms on this one bush!
Here is one of my dianthus plants that I have on my porch in a pot. I planted this last year! It was in the annual section of the greenhouse!! Guess I have a perennial on my hands!
Here is a mini daylily with its first and second bloom of the season! I have two of these plants in my garden and both of them are going to be blooming like crazy this season! The other plant hasn't started blooming yet but there is about 10 shoots with at least 4 buds per shoot on it!
This is newly acquired to my yard! My hubby put this sloped circle in for me this year in a spot in the yard where he could not get grass to grow. It is hard to see in this picture without clicking on it to make it bigger but in the middle there is a Colorado blue spruce seedling. We got that free at one of the local nurseries this year with a coupon that we got after purchasing our Christmas tree there. All the flowers in this area are annuals--zinneas, marigolds, verbanas, and vinca impatients, basically something to fill in the area with color while the pine tree grows. We still need to get some mulch to put in this area so when I water the soil doesn't erode away.

So this is a glimpse of six different areas of flower gardens that is in my yard! I am better at keeping up with flowers than with veggies! Do you have a flower garden? If so, what is in your flower gardens?

BLT Pasta Salad

Summer is just beginning here in the Midwest which means that grilling and no oven meals are the "in thing" to do! One of my favorite no-oven meals are doing up pasta salads to have with grilled meat.

Last year at a wedding I had this type of salad and came home and wanted to tried it out with my crew but didn't have a recipe because I wasn't smart enough to ask the caterer at the wedding for the recipe! I took the time to look online to find something that resembled the salad and I found several so I combined a couple of recipes and came up this recipe that my crew just loves despite the fact that there is chunks of tomatoes in it!

It has become my go to pasta salad for picnics and get togethers because of how easy it is to make up. Here is what I came up with....


1 lb rotini pasta cooked, drained and cooled

1/4 cup Real Bacon bits

1/4 cup Miracle Whip Light

1/4 cup Ranch Salad Dressing

1 pint grape tomatoes, chopped

2-3 leaves of iceberg lettuce, chopped

I cooked, drained and cooled the rotini the night before along with adding in some of the bacon bits and some of the Miracle Whip and Ranch Dressing. Then the following day before I was going to serve it, I chopped the tomatoes, and lettuce. I added more Miracle Whip and Ranch Dressing and Bacon Bits and it was ready to serve!

You might have to play with the measurements for the salad because the only measurements that I know for sure is the rotini pasta and the grape tomatoes. The rest of the ingredients I just put in with the rotini and when it looked good I stopped adding them. I don't like pasta salads dripping with dressing so I made it where the dressing part of the salad was light---just enough to stick the ingredients together. Also, I used grape tomatoes instead of the "sandwich" size tomatoes so that I ended up with more tomato "meat" than tomato seeds.

One of these times that I make it, I will probably get some romaine lettuce or fresh spinach to use in place of the iceberg lettuce! So far the few times that I have made it, I have change things up with different shaped pasta including using tri-color rotini. Also I have used roma tomatoes as well, if you use any other tomatoes besides the grape ones you will want to de-seed the tomatoes! I didn't one of the times I have made it and regretted not doing so!

With this pasta salad you will want to make sure that it is eaten within a day or two after making it because the tomatoes really get mushy after the first 24 hours!

This salad would be a good compliment side with some grilled chicken or a nice juicy grilled burger or steaks for a nice simple summer meal!

This post is linked at:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chocolate Chip Bread

Looking for something other than chocolate chip cookies??? This quick bread can be a great substitute!! It is very easy to make into loaves or muffins!

Chocolate Chip Bread


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) chocolate chips(I prefer milk chocolate)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts(optional)
PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.

COMBINE flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Combine eggs, milk and vegetable oil in medium bowl. Add to flour mixture; mix just until moistened. Stir in morsels and nuts. Spoon into prepared loaf pans.

BAKE for 55 to 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; remove from pans. Cool on wire racks.

NOTES: If you are looking for even more chocolate flavor, drizzle or spread the cooled loaves with chocolate! Microwave 1/2 cup chocolate chips in heavy-duty plastic bag on HIGH (100%) power for 45 seconds; knead bag to mix. Microwave for an additional 10- to 20-second intervals, kneading until smooth. Cut a small hole in corner of bag; squeeze to drizzle over bread. If you don't want to use a plastic bag just melt chocolate chips in a bowl and use a knife to spread some melted chocolate on top. Personally, I love to spread the chocolate on top so that when I cut the loaves each slice has an extra kick of chocolate. However, if you are looking for elegant loaves, drizzling is the best option.

This post is linked at:
  • Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam!
  • Tempt My Tummy Tuesday over at Blessed with Grace!
  • I am Blissfully Domestic at Blissfully Domestic!

  • Sunday, May 31, 2009

    Menu Plan Monday 5/31-6/6

    Whew!! I made it through last week and all its activities! The spring play at church ended up having THREE shows instead of the initial two that were planned!! The play was wonderful! I must say that my oldest son is developing his talent of acting quite well! My MIL stayed through Sunday morning church and then left for home. Despite the busyness, last week's menu plan went pretty smoothly even if I did have to pull quick meals from the freezer or do leftover makeovers rather than what I had initially planned! Hubby goes back to work on Tuesday so this week should be back to normal and less busy.

    For this week's shopping trip, I went over my $100 budget by $9.31 but that still isn't bad considering that I had an extra in the house for two days. I should have enough meat in the house to last me for two weeks so we will see if that keeps me from buying anymore!

    This week's menus are family favorite meals! After a busy week, I like sticking with tried and true recipes to easy back into normalcy rather than trying new dishes.

    For this week, lunches listed are for the kids and I except for Monday! Unless we are having leftovers, our lunches are served with apple slices or carrot sticks along with fruit juice or water. Hubby usually takes a dinner leftover along with various snacks for his work lunch.

    A special thanks toLaura-Organizing Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday! Need help with your menus; go check the over 400 other delicious meal plans that have been linked at Laura-Organizing Junkie'ssite or look down in my right sidebar for my menu suggestion lists!

    Sunday (5-31)

    Breakfast: eggs, sausage or bacon, hash browns, and cinnamon rolls

    Lunch: Wendy's (MIL's treat before she left town)

    Dinner: goulash served with corn muffins

    Snack: ice cream

    Monday (6-1)

    Breakfast: cereal, and toaster strudel

    Lunch: pizza treats

    Dinner: smothered chicken served with boiled potatoes and green peas

    Snack: snack basket

    Tuesday (6-2)

    Breakfast: waffles and sausage

    Lunch: sandwiches & chips

    Dinner: roasted whole chicken served with mashed potatoes & gravy, corn and biscuits (carryover from last week)

    Snack: cookies & milk

    Wednesday (6-3)

    Breakfast: bagels, and cereal

    Lunch: leftovers

    Dinner: grilled lemon pepper chicken served with rice and green beans

    Snack:cookies & milk

    Thursday (6-4)

    Breakfast: Pancakes and sausage

    Lunch: chicken nuggets

    Dinner: spaghetti and garlic toast

    Snack: snack basket

    Friday (6-5)

    Breakfast: cereal and toaster strudel

    Lunch: sandwich & chips

    Dinner: grilled cheeseburgers served with pan fries and corn

    Snack: ice cream night

    Saturday (6-6)

    Breakfast: "Cook's Choice"

    Lunch: leftovers

    Dinner: roasted pork loin served with mashed potatoes & gravy, and corn

    Snack:snack basket or popcorn

    Singing Sunday

    While I'm Waiting
    by John Waller

    I'm waiting
    I'm waiting on You, Lord
    And I am hopeful
    I'm waiting on You, Lord
    Though it is painful
    But patiently, I will wait

    I will move ahead, bold and confident
    Taking every step in obedience
    While I'm waiting
    I will serve You
    While I'm waiting
    I will worship
    While I'm waiting
    I will not faint
    I'll be running the race
    Even while I wait

    I'm waiting
    I'm waiting on You, Lord
    And I am peaceful
    I'm waiting on You, Lord
    Though it's not easy
    But faithfully, I will wait
    Yes, I will wait

    I will serve You while I'm waiting
    I will worship while I'm waiting
    I will serve You while I'm waiting
    I will worship while I'm waiting
    I will serve you while I'm waiting
    I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord