August 13, 2012

Fav Five Mondays

Happy Monday, here's my five favorite pins to inspire our week.

Jacques Torres’ Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Cookies - Bakerella
These look so amazing, can't wait to make them! I love this blog too, if you love baking it's a must. 

Watermelon Blueberry Salsa - Love and Olive Oil
How fun...what a cool combination, another awesome blog.

Cheese Puff Toss
Love a good game.

DJ Yoduh
Perfect gift for your awesome nerdy friend.

Creme De La Creme - Atlantic Pacific
I love love love this look and maybe found a new blog to follow.

Have a lovely week everyone!

Getting New Hair!!!

Getting a new look is one of my favorite things ever. Here's the look I'm going for... Appointment on Thursday night! Yippee!!!!

August 6, 2012

Meal Planning Part 3 - Weekly Plan

These are earrings that me and my sister made this weekend, I love them! I'll post the DIY later this week.
food budget-posted
monthly planning-posted
weekly planning

WEEKLY: Saturday Grocery Shop for the following week, local grocery store - Budget $40
So, for the first week (last post “monthly”) I get staples and next week’s food, for the other three weeks I just get what I needed for the following weeks meals.
Shopping Time: 30 minutes

I have learned the more I plan the less stress I feel. So I have certain days that I do certain things and everything just flows and falls into place. I also have a lot less waste, I feel like sometimes people over shop and then they are throwing away so much stuff they just bought. This is what I found with us when I would stock up on sale/coupon stuff, I’m not saying I don’t use coupons or sales, I love a deal, but I’m not over buying just to save money, then not using the stuff and throwing it away because it’s expired or bad.
If on Friday I have a bare fridge we did a good job. Here is my weekly meal planning template, if I follow this we tend to stay in budget and we don’t waste food. Again bring a list and cash.

Saturday- Make Meal

Sunday- Make Meal, Sunday is when I’ll try to make something bigger. Then I can practice being an Italian Grandma, so when I have kids and they have kids I’ll be ready for them all to come over and eat dinner. This is usually when I bake a treat for our week too. I love cooking and baking, so really Sunday is my day that if I want to spend the whole day in the kitchen I can.
Monday- My honey is off of work, so he cooks me dinner. I know he is a sweetie! So on Mondays I come home and dinner is cooked and he also does the dishes! I would be fine with dollar menu too, if he decided on it. But it’s really nice knowing one day a week; I don’t have to make any decisions on “what’s for dinner". He'll grill other times for me too, especially in the summer, but Mondays are a for sure, he is wonderful to me. 

Tuesday- Make Meal or Leftovers from Sunday
Wednesday – Something very simple and inexpensive, grillies and soup, deli meat sandwiches and salad, mac and cheese and hot dogs, cold cereal…something along these lines.

Thursday – Leftover clear out! This is a must to have no waste grocery shopping. I take everything out of the fridge that is leftover and we each create our own dinner from the items. We’ve had some pretty funny combinations.
Friday- Date Night!! We have a $20 budget and make no plans until we are home from work and then decide together what we want to do with our $20, then any money left over we spend on Sunday after church for Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, or Breakfast Burritos. This has been a really fun addition to our marriage; I would label this as a “MARRIAGE SAVER” for sure. Who says you have to wait to have kids to make a date night??

Now on a side note I’d like to share with you the meal planning app/service I LOVE-

Plan to Eat, amazing….it really does all the stuff I did before by using spreadsheets and meal calendars on my computer. But using Plan to Eat it's all online so it's super easy. Here are some reasons why I love it-

1. I input my recipes including a picture of the food I made (i love this, makes me feel like a famous cook/baker!)into my recipe book, including ingredients. Once you’ve done this your recipe will always be online for you.

2. There is a monthly calendar, on Saturday I just drag and drop my recipes into the day I want to make it.

3. Since my recipe is in the calendar it knows all the ingredients that I need to make it, I just click on"shopping list" everything I need to make the weeks’ worth of food is listed for me! I can look at this on my iPhone too, so all I need at the grocery store is my phone and when I check something off of my list it disappears....oh......and it's all in order too. Produce, can goods, dairy, so on.

4. I can save menus, so at the end of the month I save July 1-31 as a menu then next July or whenever I just drag and drop the ENTIRE months’ worth of meals. Then I can edit certain days if things need changing.

5. Kind of like how you"pin" stuff you can copy a recipe to your Plan to Eat site, so when I'm on Pioneer Woman site and I like something I just copy it over, amazing!

6. You can email a recipe from your Plan to Eat, so say I'm with someone and they are like, "Wow, Jolleen these are the best Sloppy Joes I've ever had! Can I have your recipe?" I say yes and take out my phone and go to the website and email it to them. Done!

7. You can make your own categories for recipes. Example- When it's over 90 degrees out; I don't like to turn on the stove top. Over 80 degrees I don't like to turn the oven I have a category called "warm weather food" so when I'm making my meal plan for the week, I check the weather forecast. If it’s over 80 I just look for recipes from this category, it’s so nice.

Plan to Eat - You can get a free 30 day trial, then it’s $39 per year
I really could go on and on...but I think 7 favorite things is a good amount.

My meal/budget wrap-up:
Budget- Costco $40, Staples at Wal-Mart $80, other three weeks local grocery store $40, Date Night $20 = My Monthly Food Budget $320 (this includes all house stuff too like shampoo, cleaning stuff, contact solution)

Plus my honey makes me dinner night, I don't give him a budget, but he usually spends around $10 (he does his own shopping too for this, but can use anything in the cupboards or freezer) = Approx total $360 for the month

Ok this really was a lot of stuff to tell you all, I hope it is helpful and maybe you got some good ideas. Just remember you need to make whatever you do work for your family. I really love doing budgets and meal planning, so it was really fun to share all of this with you.

Do you have any meal planning tricks you use?

Fav Five Mondays

Here are my favorite five pins to inspire yours and my week!

DIY Bow Ring
Can't wait to make this ring!

I love this.

Paper Mache Deer Heads, set of three
These are so cute! I want to try and make one.....

Prada Sunglasses
BEAUTIFUL! Love these sunnies.

DIY Arrow Bobbies
For sure making these!

There you go everyone, these are my favorite pins for the week. Happy Monday, I hope someone brings you an unexpected present today. 

P.S. Link under photo, goes to the home of the original pin.

August 5, 2012

Let's Eat, My Meal Plan for the Week

First time making these peanut butter bars, excited to see how they turn out.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

P.S. I'm sad I ended up not doing the art walk, was sick. But that was my plan so I just left it up. We ate cereal and white rice.

August 4, 2012

Meal Planning Part 2 - Monthly Planning

Ha!! That's me, I love a caricature drawing.
This post will be broken up into three parts
food budget-posted
monthly planning
weekly planning

Shopping: First question - What works best for your schedule regarding grocery shopping? I have tried many different things, Costco, couponing, 4 different grocery stores to find the best bargains, stocking the pantry, only buying stuff on super sale.

This is what I found - it really didn't work with how we work; even though I was getting great deals...we weren't always eating food we loved. Or I'd have so much stuff in the pantry it would expire before I used it! Maybe this is just me, but I realized I needed to change our grocery shopping to fit us, how we live and how we eat. Remember you need to have your plan fit your life and budget. We are a family of two, just me and the honey, if you are wondering.


1st of the month Costco trip, my budget $40 - I have a staple list of about 15-20 things that I get at Costco and I rotate through it as needed. I've priced stuff out so I know things that are better to get at a grocery store and what to get at Costco. Example - I love to bake so I get my butter at Costco saves me a lot, for you it might not work to buy 4 pounds of butter at a time. I keep track as I'm putting stuff in my cart, when I've reached my budget, I'm done shopping. We also get dinner while we’re there, so that's a great cheap dinner and guess what, that means one nights of food for the month is always planned!! That was easy...
Shopping time: 20 minutes + dinner

Here’s what I bought on Aug 1st-
Butter $7.59 (this will last me three months in summer, two months in winter)
Tortilla $2.99 (this will last two months)
*Romaine lettuce $3.29 (this will last two weeks)
*Vine Tomatoes $4.49 (this will last two weeks)
Granulated Garlic $4.49 (lasts two years or more)
*Eggs $2.99 (this will last one month)
*Items I get every month

Total with tax $25.84 + dinner at Costco+ drive thru McDonald's for $1 cones and we still have $6 left! Perfect, I’ll add this to my staple shopping fund for Saturday.

1st Saturday of the month Wal-Mart trip for staple/pantry stock shopping, my budget $80 + my $6 from Costco trip,yeehaw!! I go to Wal-Mart to get all my staples for the month, cheapest. I have a staple list of things that we typically go through in a month. Examples- 1cans of pork and beans, 2 cans black beans, 2 can refried beans, any baking items, toiletries, Ziploc bags, salad dressing, stuff like that. So this Saturday I'll look at my list of monthly staples and go through all of my cupboards and through the bathroom and ask myself “do I have enough whatever to get through the month?” If not, than I get it. I also use only cash, so as I'm shopping I keep track of how much I'm spending. Same as Costco when my cash is up, I’m done shopping. This shopping trip and budget includes regular groceries for the following week.
Shopping time: 1 hour + 30 minutes at Grocery Store for produce/meat (I hate Wal-Mart’s produce, it always looks a little funky)

The key for me is to make a list at home for what I need at the store, making a list is the best way I have for staying in budget.

That’s it party people, check back tomorrow for my weekly stuff.

P.S. Tomorrow I'll also tell you about the meal planning service I use and LOVE! That helps makes all of this super fast and easy.

August 3, 2012

Banana Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Cream Frosting

Banana Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Cream Frosting
These are pretty tasty! Banana cupcakes with a caramel butter cream frosting, oh yea. The cupcakes are a Martha Stewart recipe, but the frosting she uses for these takes about 5 hours to make, well maybe an hour....way too long for me just for frosting, that is just good. If it was unbelievably amazing then I'm in, but not this one. Instead I just use a simple caramel butter cream frosting.

Another thing i love to do is top it with crunchy bacon pieces, YUMMY! These I just topped with pecans.

Recipe for Martha Stewart's Banana Cupcakes

Below is my recipe for Caramel Butter Frosting, I also use this for a Salted Caramel Butter Frosting to top brownies, so good....but for the banana cupcakes I left out the salt. This recipe makes enough to put a circle size amount on 24 cupcakes, like picture above, if you like a lot of frosting double the recipe.

Caramel Butter Cream Frosting

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar sifted


1. In a small saucepan combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring until it turns dark amber color. Remove from heat.
2. Stir in heavy cream and vanilla FAST & carefully, stirring well even as bubbles form.
3. Allow to cool
4. While that cools- Beat butter, salt until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar, beat until well incorporated (add small amount at a time or else you'll have a mess)
5. Once caramel is cooled pour caramel into butter mixture until light and fluffy.
6. Frost it
7. ENJOY!!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Make It Work, Season 10!!!

Last night was girly night with my sister! Every other week we meet and have dinner, do nails, and watch Project Runway, Smash, or Craft Wars...just depending on seasons.
Gelish Tiger Blossom

Nails: I LOVE this color, it's perfect for summer Gelish Tiger Blossom it's a beautiful orange/red/tangerine (Gelish is a polish that you use special polishes and dry in a UV chipping for two weeks, drys instantly after the light,  and it stays this shiny)

Dinner: Same as always Sesame Chicken from China Village, it's the best EVER.

Show: Project Runway, we both love Project Runway and after the first show before elimination we pick our 3 favorite people to win. This is what we picked, we only watched the first two shows last night, we are two show behind.

Megan's Picks-
Christopher Palu
Ven Budhu
Beatrice Guapo

My Picks-
Buffi Jashanmal
Ven Budhu
Alicia Hardesty

and I hope Kooan Kosuke goes along way too because I want to see all the funky stuff he makes!

Who is your favorite for season 10?

August 2, 2012

Meal Planning Part 1 - Food Budget

Cute sign I want to get for my kitchen, Hobby Lobby
This post will be broken up into three parts food budget, monthly planning, and weekly planning.

I've been working on this for about a year, trying different ideas and ways to shop and organize. I'm happy to say I'm down to perfection! (Well in my mind...hehehe) It's taken a lot of trial, error,and redo's but here you go. Use whatever you like, probably the best thing I've learned is you need to create what works for you. What I like to do, you might hate.

You need to set a budget, the best way I stick to my budget is buy using cash ONLY and a shopping list.

I love to shop and spend money; it really doesn’t matter on what. So grocery shopping is just as much fun for me as clothes shopping, well almost. So in order for me to stay in budget I have to do cash and a list. Or else I’m spending more and getting lots of unneeded stuff, I’m very distracted when shopping by eye candy. If I don’t have a list I’m most likely buying twice as much stuff as I went in for. Ha! Love being a chick, I think this might run in our blood.

So since I know this is my weakness, I stick to cash and a list and I’m good.

P.S. The app I use and love for book keeping is called Pocket Money (iPad and iPhone), I also have heard really good things about and Mint is free.

Do you have any tricks to help you stay in budget?