Thursday, July 21, 2016

Crock-pot Pork, Sauerkraut, and Mashed Potatoes

I hesitated to post this or not since this is really a non-recipe, but then I decided that it might give someone some inspiration, so I would be selfish not to share.  So, anyway, below is my recipe for Pork, Sauerkraut, and Mashed Potatoes all done in 2 crock-pots...
As you can see from above, the pork and sauerkraut part is as easy as dumping both into a crock-pot (I use the liners, because having less dishes to wash is never a bad thing).  I have used a pork roast, pork tips, pork chops, and pork loin in this recipe, so which ever you have on hand or use the one that your family prefers - it's totally up to you, they are all yummy options.  If you have some chicken stock or broth, add a splash of that too for flavor (but it's definitely optional).  Just to give an idea portion-wise, I used 5 small pork chops in the crock-pot above and 2 cans of sauerkraut for my family of 3, and we had leftovers.  I put the 2 ingredients in the crock-pot, and let it cook away on low for 6-8 hours, or until the pork is done. 
Now, as for the mashed potatoes, you can cook them in the crock-pot as well.  I will do a different post outlining that recipe, but I do want to share another option with you today.  I buy the Simply Potatoes pre-made mashed potatoes in the refrigerator section at the grocery store when they are on sale and I have coupons, and then, I stick them in the freezer - shhh...  I know it says not to on the box, but I have NEVER had a problem doing this.  The night before I want mashed potatoes I stick them in the fridge.  In the morning I dump them in a lined crock-pot and add a splash of milk.  That part is important for nice creamy smooth mashed potatoes.  I let them warm on low for 4-6 hours, stirring here and there to get any lumps out and to make sure they heat evenly.  I'm not sure if the stirring is necessary, but I do it anyway. 
Below is the finished product - delicious pork, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes:

 What's your favorite way to eat sauerkraut?
Have you tried a two-crock-pot meal before?
Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Frugal Finds: July 2016 Edition

This month Joe, Howard, and I were able to sneak out to the thrift store, and we scored BIG time!  I can almost always find something to purchase, but this time there were s-o m-a-n-y great deals to be had.  We always go on Wednesday which is half price day, so everything we purchased was half off!  Howard has moved into 3T clothing, so I was on a mission to find 4 and 5 T items, and I hit the jack pot.  I was very pleased to find so many pairs of pants without zippers and snaps.  
Part #1:
4T Blue Camo Pants for Howard $2.99 - 50% off Sale = $1.49
4T Green Camo Pants for Howard $3.99 - 50% off Sale = $1.99
4T Navy Striped Sweats for Howard $2.99 - 50% off Sale = $1.49
4T Jeans for Howard $2.99 - 50% off Sale = $1.49
4T Overalls for Howard $4.99 - 50% off Sale = $2.49
5T Gray Pants for Howard $3.99 - 50% off Sale = $1.99
Blue and Gray Floral Skirt for Me $2.99 - 50% off Sale = $1.49
5T Gray long-sleeved Robot Shirt for Howard $1.99 - 50% off Sale = $0.99
4 or 5 T (no size in shirt) Long-sleeved Tractor Shirt for Howard $1.99 - 50% off Sale = $0.99
5T Long-sleeved Football Shirt for Howard $1.99 - 50% off Sale = $0.99
5T Long-sleeved Sweater for Howard $1.99 - 50% off Sale = $0.99
5T Long-sleeved Blue Pocket Shirt for Howard $2.99 - 50% off Sale = $1.49
5T Long-sleeved Gray Mustache Shirt for Howard $1.99 - Did not get rung up = Free!
3T Lightweight Blue Sweat for Howard $1.99 - 50% off Sale = $0.99
Belt for Joe $0.99 - Not rung up = Free!
Part #2:
2 Board Books for Howard $0.99 each - 50% off Sale = 2/$0.98
1-6 pack of Books for Howard $0.99 - 50% off Sale = $0.49
1 set of Coasters $0.99 - 50% off Sale = $0.49
 1 Melissa and Doug Chore Chart for Howard $2.99 - 50% off Sale = $1.49
1 Digital Thermometer for the Tub for Howard's Baths $0.99 - 50% off Sale = $0.49
1 Tub of Legos for Howard $5.99 - 50% off Sale = $2.99
1 HUGE Rolling Box of Legos for Howard (not pictured) $7.99 - 50% off Sale = $3.99
 + $0.71 Tax
Total OOP: $31.49
(would have been $62.77 before 50% off sale!?)

Menu Plan Monday: 07/18/2016


This weekend marked week 6 in the RV - renovations take F-O-R-E-V-E-R!  We are making due.  My back is killing me, but Howard and I are loving all the time outdoors.  When your living area is super small, it really pushes you into the wide open spaces outside!  I also have teas this week at work, which completely drain me of any and all energy I have, so there is some take-out on the menu.  Here's what's cookin' this week...
  • Breakfasts: Fruit, and Luna Bars for Me; Pop-Tarts for Joe; Turkey Sausage Links, Mini Muffins, Fruit, and/or Fruit and Grain Bars for Howard
  • Lunches: Leftovers, Canned Soup, Salad, Misc. Frozen TV Meals, PB and J Waffle Sandwiches, and/or Egg Salad or BLT Sandwiches
  •  Dinners:
    • Sunday - Friendly's
    • Monday - Ice Cream for Dinner :-)
    • Tuesday - Chicken Tacos
    • Wednesday - Leftovers
    • Thursday - Crock-pot Chicken Fajitas, Mexican Rice, Salad
 

    • Saturday - Take-out

Monday, July 18, 2016

Weekly Spending Report: 07/10-16/2016

This week I was able to stock up on some AWESOME deals, including Benefiber, frozen TV dinners, and fresh produce!  We didn't really need a whole lot this week, just some breakfast, lunch, and snack items, so I decided to take advantage of a few sales while I was out.  I spent a little more than I like to, but I am VERY pleased with what I was able to walk out of the stores with.  Here's how the week went...
  • Sunday's CVS Trip: $17.30 oop, Earned $12 ECB's ($10 Benefiber, $2 Powerade)
  • Sunday's ALDI Trip: $24.53 oop
    Total OOP: $74.49
    Total Earned: $12.25
    Total Remaining for July: $228.95
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    Linked to Couponaholic, I Heart Publix, and many more! 

    Tuesday, July 12, 2016

    Menu Plan Monday: 07/11/2016


    This weekend marked our 4th week in the RV.  The renovations should be completed this coming weekend, so I am hoping that by next week we are moved back in.  However, I am growing accustomed to our trailer and living there full-time.  It is so nice to spend the afternoons outside in the quiet while Howard naps - it is very rejuvenating for me!  We are staying busy with outings and time at the playground, plus my work schedule.  I am still keeping our menu on the simple side since I don't have a ton of space to cook in.  Here's what's cooking this week...
    • Breakfasts: Fruit, and PB Toast for Me; Pop-Tarts for Joe; Turkey Sausage Links, Mini Muffins, Fruit, Fruit and Grain Bars, and/or Peanut Butter Fiber Bars for Howard
    • Lunches: Leftovers, Canned Soup, Salad, Misc. Frozen TV Meals, PB and J Waffle Sandwiches, and/or Egg Salad or BLT Sandwiches
    •  Dinners:


      • Friday - Take-out after a day working at Pap's house
      • Saturday - Crock-pot Taco Salads
      For more AWESOME Menu Plans, visit Org Junkie!

    Sunday, July 10, 2016

    Weekly Spending Report: 07/03-09/2016


    My shopping was a little all over the place this week.  I was running late on Sunday so I didn't get to go shopping until evening, and by then ALDI was closed.  I also hadn't planned to go to CVS this week, until I looked at the amount of diapers I had left in my stock-pile.  We are waiting until the renovations are done in the apartment and we are out of the RV before we start potty training Howard.  So after dinner, throughout the week, the three of us made short outings to stores.  It worked out pretty well actually.  Here's how my spending broke-down over this past week...
    • Sunday's Giant Trip: $29.51 oop
    • Tuesday's ALDI Trip: $28.76 oop (included, but not pictured are 7 gallons of H2O)
    • Wednesday's BJ's Trip: $33.64 oop (sorry no picture, but it included 2-4 packs of apple juice, 3 packages of Crystal Light sticks, and a large bag of potato chips)
    • Saturday's CVS Trip: $17.48 oop, Earned $10 ECB's

    Total OOP: $109.39
    Total Earned: $10
    Total Remaining for July: $303.44

    Linked to Couponaholic, I Heart Publix, and many more... 

    Wednesday, July 6, 2016

    A Toddler Diaper Bag - Deconstructed

    Our diaper bag is a Vera Bradley computer tote that was given to us when we found out that we were expecting.  I loved the beautiful bright colors, the shoulder strap, and all of the pockets that were inside and out.  Plus it was free!  This bag has served us well over the past two year, and is still going strong.  I thought it might be fun to show what I keep in the diaper bag for our now two-year old.  I know there are many moms who look forward to ditching the diaper bag, but I LOVE knowing that I have everything that I need, for any kind of mishap, within arms reach.  Knowing that I have the supplies I might need gives me confidence when I am out and about with my little one; I know that I am as prepared as I can be.  I have found that preparedness is one of the keys to having a smooth outing with a toddler. 

    On the outside of our diaper bag we have a zip pocket on one side and a snap pocket on the other.  Here's the snap side...
    Because this side snaps, and can easily be opened, I tuck the items below in the little slots and pockets on the inside of the pocket so I don't accidentally lose them.  In this pocket I keep some crayons, a slinky, and some baby nail clippers.
    Here's the outside zip pocket...
    In this pocket I keep a spare outfit - pants, tee shirt, and socks, as well as a Ziploc bag with some baby Motrin, baby Tylenol, gas drops, the dispensers for each medicine, and some sunscreen.  It is very important to use a zip-top bag for your medicines.  Do not ask me how I know this.  But I will share that baby Tylenol is super sticky, and incredibly hard to clean out of a pocket.

    The inside of the diaper bag is super roomy.  There are two pockets on the one side, a middle section, and a pocket on the other side with a Velcro closure.  Then the whole thing zips shut, so you can cram that bad-boy full of stuff and it all stays inside.
    Inside the Velcro side we keep diapers, some stacking cups, sunglasses, and a light up toy that Howard just loves.  Yes, we keep a LOT of diapers in our diaper bag.  Joe, Howard, and I have the tendency to go away for 10 or 12 hours at a time, so Howard will sometimes use all 10 diapers that I keep packed . 
    On the opposite side there are two pockets, one pocket holds some Clorox wipes for dirty tables and high chairs, baby wipes, and baby powder.
    The second pocket holds a bib, toddler fork and spoon, and of course, snacks.  I always carry two different kinds - something salty and something sweet.  Today it was pretzels and apple puffs (which are from the Dollar Tree and Howard LOVES them).  Snacks are another important item to have on hand to avoid toddler meltdowns in the middle of the store. 
    In that open middle section I keep the changing mat - which is the best $11 I think I have ever spent (this one is similar*).  The changing mat has a holder for bags.  I buy the doggie bags at the Dollar Tree and they work just as well for stinky diapers as the more expensive diaper-specific ones they sell at Target and Walmart.  I also keep the coloring pack there as well.  I found this at the Dollar Tree, and it has been a wonderful addition!  There are 8 large crayons - perfect for toddler hands - and 72 pages to color, for a buck, and everything is contained!  
    Here's a peek at the inside when it is all nicely packed and ready to roll.
     I hope that there is something beneficial that all you diaper bag-toting parents can glean from this post. 

    Let me know what item you find most beneficial to keep packed in your diaper bag in the comments below...

    *This post contains affiliate links, thank you for supporting this site!

    Tuesday, July 5, 2016

    Menu Plan Monday: 07/04/2016


    This past weekend marked our third week in the RV.  We are hoping that the renovations will be complete this week, then we can move back into our apartment and stop eating 'RV-friendly' foods, but only time will tell.  I had to work today, but with all the rain, the museum decided to close early.  Not only do I get the evening off, but I still got to enjoy some of the fun food they had here at the event - that's what I call a win-win!  It's been warming up here in Maryland, and the humidity has finally decided to stay I think, so I kept my menu fairly 'light' for this week.  When it's sticky and hot out, I really don't feel like eating or cooking heavy foods.  Here's what cooking in the Rogers' RV this week...
    • Breakfasts: Fruit, PB Toast, and/or Luna Bars for Me; Pop-Tarts for Joe; Turkey Sausage Links, Mini Muffins, Fruit, Fruit and Grain Bars, and/or Peanut Butter Fiber Bars for Howard
    • Lunches: Leftovers, Canned Soup, Salad, Misc. Frozen TV Meals, and/or PB and J Waffle Sandwiches
    •  Dinners:
      • Sunday - Buffalo Wild Wings while running errands
      • Monday - Joe and I shared a free Pit Beef Sandwich and French Fries; Howard would only eat French Fries because he was being grumpy.  I also got a vanilla custard when I got off work :-)
      • Tuesday -Take-out while running errands - part 2
      • Wednesday - Crock-pot BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Baked French Fries
      • Thursday - Leftovers or Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Veggie Dippers
      • Friday - Subs from a Steam Show we are going to for the day.  Or Country Ham sandwiches.  The place we buy them from does both, we eat some for lunch and take the rest home for dinner. 
      • Saturday - Pizza Night!
    For more AWESOME menu plans, visit Org Junkie!

    Thursday, June 30, 2016

    Goals Update: June 2016

     

    June started off with so much promise - a lighter work load, less pre-scheduled tours, no teas - but then our apartment became a war-zone of renovations and we were sequester to the trailer until further notice.  Ah-yah-yah.  It's been rough for our little guy to get adjusted.  He is loving all the outside playtime, but is very confused about bedtime since he has only ever slept in a swing and the crib.  A bunk bed is a lot to get use to apparently.  We are making it work for now.  Cleaning is a breeze since our living area is so small, but our living area is SO SMALL!  Hence why we spend a LOT of time outdoors, thank God the weather is cooperating.  I didn't get a whole lot done in June for obvious reasons, but some goals are chugging along nicely regardless, so there is that.  Without further ado, here is how things progressed in June...

    Personal:
    • Lose 20 lbs (about 1.5 lbs a month) I have lost 11 1/2 pounds!  I started using the 'My Fitness Pal' app last month, and it is amazing how many calories some foods have in them.  I'm not really watching my calories per-say because I am not 'dieting,' but instead trying to make this weight-loss journey life-long and sustainable.  That being said, I do find it helpful to track my exercise each day, what I ate and how much, as well as my water intake.  I think that seeing everything in black-and-white helps me make better food choices throughout the day.  
    • Exercise 292 days - In May I exercised 26 out of 31 days.  For a total of 149 for the year.  I'm right on track with this goal!  I feel great, and actually look forward to exercising everyday - probably because I binge watch YouTube videos while I bike and do my stretches.  Whatever works, right?  Motivation is half the battle.  
    • Drink at least 70 oz of water everyday - I did great with this goal in June.  The weather has started heating up, and I drink a LOT when I'm hot.  Basically as long as I keep the fridge stocked with water and lemon slices, I'm good to go!
     Financial:
    • Coupon and deal shop to stick to my $350/month budget - I shared my budget update for June here.  If you click over, you can see all of the great things I was able to stock-up on while still staying $62.83 under budget!  This included tons of fresh produce, dry shampoo, sunscreen, and a variety of other items.
    • Earn at least 6 - $25 Amazon gift card through Swagbucks - 2 Down, and 4 to go.
    • List at least 10 things per month online or 120 for the year - I did not list anything in June because of the renovations, and living arrangements.  I am hoping to list a few things in July, that way if they don't sell I can take them to our next flea market in August.  January - Check (23), February - no check (0), March - Check (43), April - no check (1), May -no check (0), June - no check (0)
    • Set up at 6 Flea Markets/Shows to sell our wares - No shows this month.  Our next flea market is in August.  Total for the year = 2
    Household:
    • Completely declutter the entire house - I only have one spot left to do, and it is on the to-do list for July -- the cedar chest.
    • Finish my 2016 project list - I have my project list update posted separately.  However, I will share that I was able to completely organize our CD collection, get quite a few things painted, and I was able to make a dent in a few other things on my list.

    Blogging:
    • Post at least 3 times a week - I posted at least 3 times per week again in June.  All totaled I shared 15 posts in June, which averages to over 3 a week! 
    • Do a 31 day series in October - Not there yet.  I have been working on some ideas in my blogging journal though. 
    • Set up a Facebook page for my blog - I had planned to do this in June, but our internet has been so spotty I just haven't gotten around to it yet.  We are moving back into our apartment next week, so I plan to get this done then.  
    How is everyone else doing with their goals?
    Anything new or different you are trying this year?
    Share some of your goals in the comments...

    June 2016 Budget Update


    June was a crazy month.  Slower-paced at work, but our home-life was wild.  We had to move into our RV so that some renovations could be done in our apartment.  The updates will be nice when they are finished, but living in a trailer with a two-year-old has definitely not been fun.  Luckily the weather has cooperated for the most part so we have been able to spend a bunch of time outside, and at different playgrounds in our area - Howard is loving all the outdoor playtime.  I was so glad that we have been under budget for the past few months grocery-wise; we had built up a nice money cushion which we then proceeded to blow through this month.  I think I am finally getting into my full-time-RV-living groove, hopefully anyway.  Meal planning, food prep, and shopping while living the RV life are getting easier.  Below is my wrap-up for my June spending, it's a little all over the place, just like we are...
    Total OOP: $411.06
    Total Earned: $79.10
    Total Remaining from June: $62.83
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