Thursday, December 3, 2009

Baby News

I had my first doctor's visit with my obgyn. I love her!
She took her time and answered all my questions and I look forward to meeting with her again in about 4-5 weeks and getting to know her over the next few months.
The news that I found out was that I'm actually only about 7 weeks along, not 12 like I was told earlier, but that's okay!
I had an ultrasound done and we got to see our precious little one for the first time. It was so exciting! And now reality has set in a bit more. The heartbeat is so fast and we could see the baby's heart beating during the ultrasound. Simply amazing! It truly is a miracle! What an amazing gift God has given to us. We are so excited about the weeks to come.
It's mind blowing to think that I have a little person growing inside of me. Absolutely insane!
I'm in awe of God's wonderful gifts, AWE!
I'm so thankful I'm able to get pregnant because I know there are so many who struggle with this everyday. I'm praying for you.
Thank you for your continued prayers. We are very excited about this new adventure in our life.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies-from Mom

Ingredients and Directions: Preheat over 350 degrees

Step 1:
Cream together until light and fluffy;
2 sticks butter (I use unsalted)
1 cup sugar

Step 2:
Mix together and add to step one;
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Step 3:
Add to butter mixture;
2 tsp baking powder
2 3/4 cup flour, 1 cup at a time
Mix until just combined.

Pick out desired cookie cutters (or scoop with a cookie scoop and roll into sugar and flatten on the cookie sheet; if you choose this way the cookies will need longer to bake in the oven, add about 2-3 minutes).
Divide dough into 2 balls, put one on a floured surface and roll out into 12 inch circle into 1/8 inch thick or desired thickness (sometimes I roll my out thicker).
Dip cookie cutter into flour. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Re-roll dough until you have used almost all of the dough. Roll out second ball of dough, same directions.
Bake 6-7 minutes at 350 degrees.

Enjoy! They are delicious!!!

This is linked at Grocery Cart Challenge for a recipe swap.
This recipe is linked at The Mom Creative for the Cookie Swap.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #15

November 30-December 6

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We did! It was busy, but still fun to see everyone.
It's fun to be busy for awhile, but always nice to get back to regular life!


leftovers from dinner


Tuesday: 1st doctor's appt with my obgyn, I'm so excited to hear a heartbeat!
Chicken Scampi


Burgers and potato fries

Pizza (using this pizza dough recipe)

Breakfast for dinner


Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lower Calorie Potato Soup

I am a member or And they have fabulous recipes that are lower calorie options. I am pregnant but I don't want to gain 50 pounds. I worked really hard to lose 20 pounds and just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean I'm "eating for two." I've been reading up on all that and you only need 300-500 more calories a day to support the growing child. That's a relief! I would love to gain no more than 30 pounds in this pregnancy and I will continue to count calories and continue walking. It will help me and baby and hopefully to have an easier delivery! I'm praying for that anyways!
So here is a great soup recipe I found on Spark People. I love soups. They help stretch my grocery budget and are quick and easy to thaw out and eat during the busy season that is coming up. Enjoy.

Baked Potato Soup-from Chef Meg at

7 large baked potatoes
3 T butter, unsalted
1 1/2 c onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup celery, diced fine
3 T flour
2 cup chicken stock, low sodium
4 cup skim or 1% milk
1/4 tsp white or black pepper
2 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 T scallions, chopped (optional)
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Remove skin from baked potatoes and chop into 1-inch cubes; set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium until melted and frothy.
Add onions and cook for 2 minutes.
Add celery and garlic to the saucepan and continue to "sweat" the veggies for 3 minutes.
Lower the heat slightly so the veggies do not brown.
Add flour to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon and cook for 2 minutes; make sure to scrape the spoon against the bottom and edges of the saucepan to pick up any of the mixture that might of settled to the bottom of the pan.
Slowly whisk in the stock until it is all incorporated.
Add diced potatoes to the mixture.
Slowly add milk; do not boil, stirring occasionally.
Cook soup over medium to low heat for 20 minutes.
While soup is cooking, cook the bacon until crisp.
Remove and drain on a paper towel.
Crumble bacon and set aside for garnish.
(If you prefer a smooth soup, puree the mixture.)
Serve in warm bowls, garnish with chopped scallion, pinch of bacon and 3/4 Tbsp cheese.

Make 15, 1 cup servings.

Number of servings: 15

Calories: 259.3
Fat: 8.6g
Carbs: 36.2g
Protein: 10.6g

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #14

November 23- November 29

Happy Thanksgiving Week!
Happy Birthday to my wonderful Hubby today!!!
I hope everyone is able to spend time with loved ones at some point during this busy time. Tell them how much you love them and are thankful for them. It'll go a long way!

Not much in the way of menu planning this week since Hubby and I will be quite busy seeing family and friends. We're having a lot of leftovers the last half of the week since there will be so much food leftover, as there always is. Have a wonderful week! Happy Thanksgiving!

cereal and fruit
yogurt and toast

leftovers from dinners
leftovers from Thanksgiving dinners
turkey and ham sandwiches

baked chicken strips-make your own bread crumbs, see here
I'll add italian seasonings, 1 Tbsp italian seasoning to 1 cup bread crumbs
dredge in 1 beaten egg, then bread crumbs
bake 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes
leftover Chef Meg's soup (see post for recipe on Tuesday)
Thanksgiving at 1, 5:30 and 7 with our families (yes we are very busy)
leftovers from yesterday

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How About Some Ham?

Okay, this ham is amazing!
And just in time for the holiday season!
It is a delicious ham that my mom's best friend has been making for a few years. We usually have it on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. My Hubby is picky, but he absolutely loves this ham.
Well, I ventured out to try it. And it turned out pretty great! I honestly was VERY nervous about it. Stuff like this can be tricky to prepare, in my opinion anyways.
But there's good news. Just follow the recipe, it's so easy!

Vicki's Holiday Ham-Vicki V.

-Mash's shank ham (smallest works) I think mine was 7 lb, on sale at Schnuck's
-small jar of honey (you'll use the whole thing)
-brown sugar (3+ cups, packed)
-heavy duty foil (3 pieces, layered together)
-large roasting pan
-crock pot

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Tear 3 sheets of heavy duty foil and layer together in the roasting pan.
3. Pour 1/4 of the bottle of honey onto foil, cover with brown sugar, about 1 cup, then place ham on top.
4. Pour rest of bottle of honey all over ham, make sure all sides are covered.
5. Dump brown sugar on top and sides, patting brown sugar into honey and ham to cover.
6. Wrap foil TIGHTLY and place in oven, 325 degrees.
7. Cook for 6 hours and NO peeking! Just leave it for the 6 full hours. LEAVE IT ALONE!
8. After 6 hours remove from oven, unwrap ham.
9. Dump juice from ham into crock pot.
10. Cut up ham if it's needed. It might fall off the bone on its own and place in crock pot.
11. Keep the crock pot on WARM if serving right away.
12. I make this the day before and keep in crock pot overnight in the fridge, then heat on LOW until the temperature is reached for serving. Then when its heated, turn to WARM.
-The ham will continue to soak up all those good juices in the crock pot. It seems like a lot of work and steps, but I promise it's worth it! And it's so EASY. I promise. I'm not one for complicated recipes.

This post is linked back to Grocery Cart Challenge.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm Pregnant!

First, God is SO good!
We are so grateful we are able to have children. And we are very excited and nervous about the upcoming months and years of our lives. It will be a wonderful experience, filled with many adventures.
Please pray for all of us as we experience many changes in our lives and my changing body. :)
I am not one for pain, AT ALL! So childbirth will be very interesting! I hope I don't break Hubby's hand in the process. I know he hopes I don't either.
I am 10 weeks as of today, with my due date being June 15, 2010. Thankfully I don't have to endure all the summer heat and pregnancy. That is a relief! Because it can get hot here in July and August!
But I am still nervous about all the changes that will happen when the baby comes. Money will be much tighter and our relationship as husband and wife will change as well. I just love the two of us, it's almost hard for me to imagine what it will be like with a child! Everyone says it the greatest experience of their lives and most rewarding too. But I think being a God-fearing woman and wife is so rewarding.
I want to make sure I keep God first, Hubby second and child/children third. I know people who put children first and I just don't like that. I don't like their behavior or their children's for that matter. When the kids are gone it's back to being just you and Hubby and that lifestyle again. And keeping him in front of the kids I know will make that transition easier. But that's my opinion. :)
But everything has been wonderful so far. No troubles or much pain at all, just a little cramping here and there. I hope it continues the next 7+ months.
Thanks for your prayers!!! They are greatly appreciated!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #13

November 16-November 22, 2009

This week in dinners looks to be delicious!

Monday, 16th:
burgers and fries
I'll make homemade wheat buns for the burgers, yummy!

Tuesday, 17th:
I am very excited about this!

Wednesday, 18th: Happy Birthday to my baby Sister, who is turning 24!
Thanksgiving Dinner at Church
I'm bringing this for dessert! And I am very excited about it.

Thursday, 19th:
Honey Garlic Pork Tenderloin

Friday, 20th:

Saturday, 21st:
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Parents house for Sister and Hubby's birthday's!
Burgers, hotdogs, and strawberry cake!

Sunday, 22nd: Happy Birthday to my sweet Hubby!
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and soup

Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Three Cheese Baked Ziti

This recipe from a wonderful cook over at Finding Joy in my Kitchen. I think I could browse at her recipes all day. I'm always finding wonderful recipes on her blog and love trying them out. And here's one I tried out last night. It was wonderful, as I expected! I modified it a little for Hubby and me. Enjoy.

Three Cheese Baked Ziti-from SnoWhite

1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
1 (15 oz) ricotta cheese
1 T dried parsley
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
10-oz frozen spinach, cooked
1/3 c grated parmesan
26 oz spaghetti sauce
16 oz ziti, cooked
16 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook ground beef and drain.
Blend together ricotta cheese, parsley, salt, egg and spinach until smooth.
Stir in parmesan cheese, until blended.
Spread 1/3 of the jar of spaghetti sauce to ungreased 9x13 pan, covering the bottom.
Place half of the cooked pasta over the sauce; spread half the ricotta mixture.
Cover with another 1/3 of the spaghetti sauce and sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese on top.
Repeat layers, ending with the mozzarella cheese on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Serves 6-8 people

Monday, November 2, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #12

Week of November 2- November 8

Hello! Sorry this is late. I had a busy week and was unable to write ahead. So here is the plan for this week. I'm trying some new things this week in dinners. I know it'll be delicious.



Pork roast, veggies and potatoes

Ham and rice (I'll post ham recipe later)


Going away party for a couple in our Sunday School class :(


Enjoy the week!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #11

October 26th-November 1st


Chicken fajita quesadillas

Burgers and homemade potato fries

Club sandwiches


Happy Halloween
We'll be at a costume party. Chili and hot dogs for dinner. I'll be making something but i don't know what. Hopefully a delicious dessert. :)

I'm babysitting so Hubby is on his own

Thursday, October 22, 2009

2009 Completed Reads

The year isn't over yet but I want to share the books I've been reading.
I love love love to read. I've always got a book with me. I sometimes carry them around in my purse, lol. I even feel like I don't read enough. But now that I've studying the Bible on a regular basis I'm doing that in place of reading other books, which of course is still reading. So I will include them into my completed reads. I'm putting a star next to my favorites and some that I suggest you read. Maybe a book report to come later on those favorites, we'll see. ;)

1. The Last Sin Eater* (Francine Rivers)
2. The Lovely Bones*(Alice Sebold)
3. Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith (Anne Lamott)
4. Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
5. In Cold Blood (Truman Capote)
6. Redeeming Love* (Francine Rivers)
7. 12 Extraordinary* Women (John MacArthur)
8. House (Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker)
9. Behold the Man* (Chuck Swindoll)
10. When God Met a Girl (Snaden)
11. Esther Bible Study (Beth Moore)
12. Story of Grace Series*--5 book series; Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary (Francine Rivers)
13. Into Thin Air (John Krauker)
14. Two From Galilee* (Marjorie Holmes)
15. Dakota (Katherine, forget last name)
16. 12 Ordinary Men (MacArthur)
17. Mollie: The Journal of Mollie Dorsey Sanford, Nebraska and Colorado Territories 1857-1866* (Mollie Dorsey Sanford)
18. The Society* (Michael Palmer)
19. Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)
20. Scouting the Divine* (Margaret Feinberg)
21. The book of Genesis
22. I am not but I know I AM (Louie Giglio)

Here are my 2009 reads. I hope you find something you've never read and find joy in it.
Have a great day!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #10

October 19th- October 25th

Hi friends,
Sorry this is late coming out. I've been super busy the past 2 weeks and haven't had time to write ahead. That is why my blogs have been few and far between. I'm working on a few blogs from the leadership conference I attended last weekend, so be on the lookout for those.
Hubby and I had the best time and learned so much. It was a rejuvenating experience that helped us learn more about ourselves and our relationship with Christ and how we can better serve our church and community. What an eye-opening experience!
I've got another busy week ahead. I'm headed down to Georgia on Thursday with my mom to visit my Grandparents. I'll be there until Sunday afternoon, so Thursday through Sunday I don't have anything planned for dinners. I will be making a few things for Hubby to eat on through the weekend so he won't starve. :)

Steak Quesadillas and Spanish Rice


Pulled Chicken Sandwiches (These is a favorite of ours!)

Out of town
Making pizza and soup for Hubby to eat

Fall Festival at Church at 6 p.m.
I'm making these cupcakes. They'll be a fun thing for the kids. I hope it at least looks a little like this picture. But we'll see. And Chicken Tortilla Soup for the main course. This is Hubby's favorite soup. I'll post this delicious recipe soon!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #9

Week of October 12-October 18

The Catalyst Conference was AWESOME, as expected! I hope to write more this week if I get a chance.
I'm continuing my adventures in babysitting. I'm having a great time with baby F. He's super cool kid and we love to sing and dance and play. Thankfully only 1 night will I be unable to cook because of a late night in babysitting. I'm glad for that. It has been a super busy month. I'll be thankful when it finally slows down even though the money is great and appreciated. Save, save, save!

On your own (I'm babysitting from 3-9:30 p.m.)


Potluck at Church
I'm bringing this in honor of Halloween!

Slow-Cooker Lasagna (I'm babysitting til 5:30 or after so this will be perfect to come home to)


Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: French Bread Pizzas

Lunch: Club sandwiches

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #8

Week of October 5-October 11

October is here! Crazy!
I hope the weather is nice and cool and you're able to find time in God's beautiful world.
Hubby and I are heading to Atlanta on Wednesday for the annual Catalyst Conference. We're going down there with our Pastor and his Wife and we are so excited about the road trip and the whole experience. It will be a refreshing and rejuvenating time for our spiritual lives, which is always needed! With that being said, I obviously only have Monday and Tuesday dinners planned. We'll be eating out every night for dinner. I'll try and remember to take pictures of all the places we go and tell you all about them.

On your own (I'm babysitting from 3-9:30 p.m.)


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #7

September 28-October 4 (Is is really October already???)

So last week I didn't do much with this blog. Sorry!
I had a lot on my plate last week. I was baking for church events, baking for my brother-in-law's birthday party, organizing a friends wedding shower, Hubby and I had meetings at church two nights, plus fitting in workouts and I was packing and menu planning for our week of house-sitting this week. So this got thrown to the wayside! Sorry about that.
We're house-sitting now for Hubby's aunt and uncle and 3 of their dogs. It's quite an adventure!
I'm throwing a wedding shower for a girlfriend at church this afternoon and it's my first to organized and plan by myself. I've helped with a few others but never had to plan what to have and do and all that jazz. It's going to be fun but I'm ready for it to be over so I can stop thinking about it.
Because of house-sitting this week and I'm beginning to babysit quite often in October you'll see a few times that Hubby will be on his own. I hate it but I can't do it all. He can fend for himself well enough that I know he won't starve. :)
So here is what is on the menu for this week. Sorry it's not a weeks worth but I start babysitting Friday and stay overnight until late on Saturday afternoon, then babysit Sunday evening. I hate being this busy!!!

Leftover french bread pizzas (Go here for the french bread recipe... it's delish!)
I bake the french bread as directed, cool completely, then cut into fourths, then cut those fourths in half horizontally, top with toppings and bake in 350-400 degree oven until the cheese is melted and just the way you like it.

Burgers and potato fries

Leftovers (ravioli, pizza, burgers, etc)

Leftover lasagna

On your own (I'm babysitting starting at 2:30 in the afternoon and staying overnight)

Lunch and Dinner: On your own (Won't be home from babysitting until early evening and I'll be exhausted, the kid is 22 months after all)

Lunch: On your own (Wedding shower at church organized by me)
Dinner: On your own (I'm babysitting from 6-10 p.m.)

I hate not being able to cook! I just love it so much. I know I'll find a way to do more than this but who knows. With being at someone else's house it's hard for me to find things to cook, so we'll see.
Have a great week!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Strawberry Cake or Cupcakes

This is one of my favorite recipes!
I'm asked frequently to make it for dinners at church and other functions. It's easy and wonderful. The picture that I posted is from a batch of cupcakes I made for a baby shower back in May.

Strawberry Cake-from Vicki V.

Cake Ingredients:
-1 box white cake mix
-1 small box strawberry jello
-3/4 cup oil (applesauce might work here too, never tried it)
-4 eggs, room temperature
-1 cup sweetened, sliced strawberries (I buy these in the frozen dessert section at Wal-Mart; fresh would probably work but you would need to put sugar on top and let the juice come out, you need the juice for the cake; this can also be pureed so no big pieces are in your cake)

-Mix first 4 ingredients in a stand mixer, then mix in the 1 cup of strawberries.
-Grease and flour 3, 8 inch cake pans or line 2, 12 count cupcake pans with 24 cupcake liners (sprayed with vegetable spray)
-Dump batter into prepared pans evenly.
-Bake at 325 degrees for 25+ minutes
-Place on cooling racks for 10 minutes, then remove to let cakes cool completely.

Icing Ingredients:
-1/2 stick butter, softened but not melted
-1 pound powdered sugar (or 4 cups)
-1/2 cup sweetened, sliced strawberries (same stuff used in the cake mix)

Let cakes or cupcakes cool completely (this is so important).
Mix all icing ingredients together with a bowl with a hand mixer.
The icing does need to be a bit stiff or it will just drip right off the cakes (another reason to let cakes cool completely). I usually add a quarter cup of the strawberries first and add more as needed. And more powdered sugar if needed too. (An 8 ounce cream cheese, softened can be added into the icing as well. It's a nice, creamy change.)
Ice cakes and refrigerate.
And refrigerate any leftovers.

P.S. It's not the healthiest dessert, around 350+ calories a serving. But it's a nice treat every now and then.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bible reading

I've started reading Genesis again. I'm sorry to say it's been quite awhile since I've picked up my Bible other than on Sundays for church. I can't let it get me down though. I've picked it up again and that's what is important. And I love Jesus!

I've always been a reader but for some reason I couldn't sit down and just read the Bible. I never thought it would work. I never thought I could just sit down and read it like a book. I've heard a lot of people say that you can't/shouldn't read it this way. But I was so wrong. They were wrong. Hubby told me, "Sit down and just read it. If you have questions write them in the margins or in your notebook." So, that's what I've been doing. And it's been working. And I'm loving it. So far I've read through chapter 11 of Genesis.

And another great thing, I've taken 3 pages of notes on these 11 chapters. And it didn't feel like I was pushing something to happen, it just came naturally. Does that sound weird? I don't think it's coming out the way I want to. But it feels good to back in the Bible again.

This whole weight loss journey has really improved my skills in other areas. I'm learning how to live a more balanced life (most of the time) and put myself first in (some) situations. I'm not being selfish about it but I need to lose weight for my health and that has to be a priority, so I've made it a priority. Just like I need to make spending time with God a priority. It helps my well being and I'm able to give more to people without it feeling like a burden. It isn't a burden to help others and I know that but if I'm not prayed up then I can't help people.

So I'm feeling encouraged. I hope you know Jesus as your Savior. He is there for you and He loves you. Get to know Him!!!

What are you reading in your quiet time?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #6

It's hard to believe we're about to start another week. This year is absolutely flying by! Is it just me?
We had a nice, relaxing weekend. I hope you did too.
We have another pretty basic week ahead with not too much going on. And that's okay with us!
Here's our plan for dinner for the week. Enjoy!

Mexican corn tortillas with spanish rice

Barbecue nachos
I have some leftover turkey loin that I'll shred to use for this.

Potluck dinner at church
Go here and here for the recipes I'll be using.

Hamburger helper and a veggie

French bread pizza
Go here for the french bread dough recipe.
It's a great recipe from SnoWhite at Joy in my Kitchen. I haven't had time to post a blog on it. It's so great and super easy because of the bread machine. Delicious!

Leftover burgers
French toast and bacon (using french bread for the toast too); see link above for the recipe

Leftover pizza
Pork roast, baked potatoes, asparagus (for me) and another vegetable (for Hubby

Have a great week!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #5

Happy Holiday Weekend. Sorry this is late. I've been enjoying this long weekend with friends and family and especially my wonderful husband.
I (unfortunately) only cooked 2 times this past week. I had meetings Monday and Tuesday, cooked Wednesday and Thursday and had dinner out with family and friends, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We were absolutely spoiled this week! I feel like I could lose my touch in the cooking department. Well that may not be true but I do have to get back with it. So here's my plan for the week.

Monday: Labor Day!
Lunch: Burgers and Potato Fries
Dinner: Mushroom Garlic Pork Chop, rice and veggies
Steaks and baked potatoes
Steak marinade: prick steaks many times with fork, salt and pepper both sides, place in 9x13 baking dish. Pour olive oil on top, 1/4 cup- 1/2 cup, sprinkle with garlic powder and worcestershire sauce. Let marinate 8 hours to overnight. Delicious!
Lunch: leftover Pizza Bread
Dinner: Sandwiches

Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pizza Crust 2- Our favorite!

This pizza crust can be made WITHOUT a bread machine. Place all ingredients in mixer with the dough hook and let the hook do the work. You may have to scrape down the sides once or twice to help the mixer, but the hook will knead the dough for you. After it's mixed and kneaded (knead 5-10 minutes), place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a towel, let rise 1 to 1.5 hours in a warm place. After it's risen, place on floured surface and let rest 10 minutes, but no more than 30. After you let it rest, it's ready to roll out. If it keeps springing back after you've tried rolling it out, let it rest for another few minutes and try again.

Here's the recipe:
Pizza Crust (for bread maker)

9-11 ounces water
3/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour (2 cups all-purpose and 2 cups whole wheat flour work great)
2 tsp yeast

Combine all ingredients into the bread pan.
Press dough setting.
Remove the dough.
Roll out dough, spread toppings, bake.

Preheat a baking stone in a 450-500 degrees F oven. Once the oven is preheated place topped pizza on the stone and bake. Start at 10 minutes and go from there until your cheese and crust is the way you like it.

I've made calzones, regular 10" pizzas, and large sheet pan pizzas (picture above). It works great for everything and it's so good!!!

*I split this dough into thirds to make it more calorie friendly and to make a thinner crust. I also either make 3 pizzas, cook 1 and freeze the other 2 for quick meals (they work just like a frozen pizza does from the store) OR freeze the balls of dough for later use. If you freeze the dough, keep it in it's round form in the freezer. To thaw: place in a bowl or on a plate and let thaw and use as fresh pizza dough that's ready to roll out. It works great and I do this often.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #4

Hope you're having a fabulous, relaxing weekend! Below is my menu plan for the week. I'm trying a couple of these recipes for the first time so I'll probably be posting those recipes on here after I make them, that is if they're good. :)
I've gone back to weekly planning (for now at least). Our schedules have been busier lately and a monthly calendar just wasn't working. It was getting messy and unorganized and I hated it.
I have a monthly calendar that I write down the dinners I want to try but this is kept in my folder of menu plans. I have a separate weekly calendar for the definite menu and our schedules for the week.
So here's my dinner menu. As you'll see, 2 nights I'm not cooking because of events that I'm involved it, so Hubby will be on his own.

Cook's Night Off--meeting with my Hostess Team
Cook's Night Off--Open House for my Mary Kay business
Spicy Southwest Turkey Tenderloin (bought if from Sam's Club), red potatoes and vegetable
Tortilla Crusted Chicken Strips (from Southern Living magazine), rice and vegetable
Blue-Corn Blueberry Pancakes (from Cuisine at Home magazine) and bacon (might end up putting this recipe on here on Friday or Saturday, if they're good. :)
Lunch: 6 inch hoagie sandwiches
Dinner: Ribeye steaks (marinated with olive oil, soy sauce, salt and pepper, garlic powder), baked potatoes and vegetable
Lunch: lunch with friends after church
Dinner: burgers and fries (we might end up going out to eat with church friends after church since Labor Day is the next day)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Homemade Household Cleaners

Do you hate spending all your hard earned money on smelly cleaning products?

I do! I've been in search of great substitutes that I can make from ingredients I already have in my pantry. And I've found them.

I've actually had a list of homemade products for awhile and I have made and used some of them. Unfortunately I still have so many store bought products that need to be used up first. I have made the ones I listed and I really love them. And I will post more once I've tried them. I won't post any products that I haven't tried.

Even though I still have quite a lot of store bought cleaning products I still want to share the list of products along with the ingredients and measurements to my fellow readers. So here's the list, enjoy!

All-Purpose Cleaner:

½ cup vinegar

¼ cup baking soda (or 2 tsp borax powder)

½ gallon (2 liters) hot water (use hot water so the powder dissolve)

Mix all ingredients together.

I put mine in a spray bottle and use with a microfiber cloth.

I use my mixture in the kitchen for the most part.

This cleaner works well on windows and mirrors too.

Dishwasher Soap:

Mix equal parts borax powder and washing soda. (Takes 1-2 tsp of each)

Increase the washing soda if you have hard water.

Oven Cleaner:

Moisten oven surfaces with sponge and water.

¾ cup baking soda

¼ salt

¼ water

Mix together to make a thick paste (I mix in a bowl for the 1-time use).

Spread paste throughout the oven interior (avoid bare metal and any openings).

Let sit overnight.

Remove with spatula and wipe clean.

Rub gently with fine steel wool for tough spots.

So here's a few cleaners you'd find in my cleaning collection. I hope you find these helpful and useful in your own home.

Stay tuned for more household cleaners that will be coming your way in the coming weeks and months.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #3

Menu-Plan Monday
Monday, August 24-Sunday, August 30

Spicy Southwestern Turkey Tenderloin (bought at Sam's Club)


Grilled chicken on ciabatta rolls

I might end up making this with bacon b/c Hubby isn't a fan of sausage

Lunch: Club sandwiches on 6 inch wheat hoagie with tortilla chips
Dinner: Hamburgers and Hotdogs--Dinner and games with our Sunday School class at 5 p.m. I'm bringing a dessert! It's this one. I've made it before and it is simple and super delicious!

Lunch: Leftover club sandwiches
Dinner: Chicken Alfredo Pasta with garlic bread

All dinners are served with rice, potato or bread and a vegetables.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Homemade Vanilla Ice cream

Mmmm, ice cream.
I scream, you scream we all scream for ice cream!
A week ago we had an ice cream social/back-to-school bash at our church. We had probably 20+ different flavors of ice cream, some homemade, some store bought. Whew, that was a lot of ice cream. I was good and have 2 scoops, a small piece of cake and half a brownie. I'm trying to be good. 12 pounds down and I've more to lose!
Well I made butterscotch ice cream and it turned out pretty good. It didn't taste a whole lot like butterscotch, more of just a hint of it, but Hubby said it was good an he liked that it wasn't too much. It wasn't hard to make, but I have a great ice cream maker. Here is the link to the butterscotch ice cream, from Smitten Kitchen, HERE. So Yummy!
Anyways, I've been craving ice cream all week. We did have some leftover but we went through it pretty quickly. So today I made some homemade vanilla, just the quick recipe out of the book that came with the ice cream maker. Simple, quick and delicious!

Here's the recipe:
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 cup whole milk, chilled
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

-Simply combine ingredients and freeze in ice cream maker as directed by the manufacturer's instructions.
-Makes about 1 quart; 10 1/2 cup servings
Calories: 242 Carbs: 18g Protein: 2g Fat: 18g Chol: 69mg Sodium: 30mg

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

This recipe was a great weeknight treat for Hubby and me.

I was supposed to go to Circle with my church girlfriends last night but it got cancelled due to no one being able to attend. I had nothing on the dinner menu thinking I was going out so I had to come up with something quickly.

We love breakfast for dinner so we decided to do that. I found a great recipe today for whole-wheat pancakes over at Finding Joy in my Kitchen. They looked easy and quick so I thought I’d try them. I’m glad I did. They were quick and wonderful! So here’s the recipe.

Wheat Blueberry Pancakes- modified from Joy in my Kitchen

Printer-Friendly Recipe

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 Tbsp brown sugar

¼ cup applesauce

1 egg

2 cups buttermilk (or 2 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice, add milk to equal 2 cups)

1-2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (keep frozen if using frozen)

(I might add 1 tsp of cinnamon next time for a little extra flavor)

1. Sift dry ingredients in medium size bowl.

2. Mix applesauce, milk, egg and brown sugar in medium size bowl.

3. Add dry ingredients and wet ingredients together and whisk until combined.

4. Heat griddle to 350* F.

5. Measure out pancake mixture to ¼ cup and pour on hot griddle.

6. Once mixture is on griddle add blueberries to each pancake, as many as you want and heat on griddle until golden brown on both sides.

Servings: 16

Nutritional info:

Calories: 86.1 Fat: .7g Cholesterol: 13.9 mg Sodium: 160.3 mg Carbs: 17.3 g Dietary fiber: 17.3 g Protein: 3.3 g

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Homemade Laundry Soap

Let me tell you, I've been on the hunt!

I am reading up on a ton of homemade stuff, trying to save us money and live a more frugal life, especially when it comes to food and household needs. These are the areas that I can control on how much money we spend and I'm trying.

So last week I ventured out all over Memphis in search of Borax powder, Arm and Hammer washing soda and Fels Naptha soap. I live in the Bartlett area but I drove all the way to Poplar Avenue to hunt at the grocery stores that sell more speciality products (for those who don't live here, it's a good 30 minutes over there). What a waste! No one had anything I needed. Let's just say I didn't research well as to where I could find these products, but I honestly wasn't sure where to look. After my adventure I came home and I got on the blog where I found the recipe for making the homemade laundry detergent (you can find that here at The Grocery Cart Challenge), and saw people's comments on where they shopped to find the supplies needed. That helped on 2 of the items, the borax powder and washing soda but not the Fels Naptha soap. And I wasn't even sure I would be able to find any of the items where they said they found them, but I went back out the next day anyways. And with great success I found all the items I needed to make my homemade laundry soap and in my own neighborhood. I traveled about 5 miles from my home instead of 20, typical me! :)

Below is a picture of all the items needed to make the soap, minus the 5 gallon bucket which you can find at any hardware store.

Borax Powder-$2.98 at Super Wal-Mart (in the detergent isle)
Arm and Hammer Washing Soda-$2.99 at Kroger (in the detergent isle)
Fels Naptha Soap-$1.99 at Stewart Brothers, Do-It-Yourself Center (I asked the nice man if they kept it in stock at all times and he said they do! So yay!)

So that is last weeks adventure! I'm glad I found all the ingredients I'll be needing for my little project (even though I do still have some of my store bought detergent left, I'm just too excited and can't wait to try my homemade stuff). Hubby has sensitive skin when it comes to laundry detergent (I can't use any kind of powder detergent) so I'm hoping this won't break him out and I'll be able to use it all the time and save tons of money on something I hate spending money on! (I'll let you know how it works on his sensitive skin in another blog post.)

I'm also very excited because she (Gayle of The Grocery Cart Challenge) said it cost a penny a load! (You can find that breakdown Here). Are you kidding? That's amazing. (It may be more than a penny a load when you consider I spent a little more on the 3 products than the ladies that did the breakdown did, but it will still be under 3 cents a load!)

I spent about $7 on all the soaps. The cost of my bucket was free. I have a great friend who works at Kroger in the bakery department and they have giant icing buckets they use and throw away when empty so she grabbed one for me. She even decorated for me (the picture at the top is my bucket, obviously).

I'll get 2 to 2.5 gallons of laundry soap from just 1/2 cup each borax powder and washing soda and 1/3 of a bar of Fels Naptha (and water). Awesome! The powders are in pretty big boxes so I know I can get quite a few uses out of that when making more laundry detergent. And I have two other uses out of the Fels Naptha since I only use 1/3 of the bar per batch (which can also be used to get out stains directly, see directions on the side of the wrapper).

I have to say this has been an amazing find. I spend almost $14 (from Sam's Club) to get 110 loads from All free and clear, which is a great brand, but I want to get more for my money. And we all know that you actually get less than it says on the containers of those things.

Can you tell I'm excited? Well if you can't, I am! :)

I'm loving finding all these great ways I can save money on household items and cleaners (I do make my own household cleaners too). Check out the blogs I read on the sidebar to learn how to save money and live a frugal life too!

What ways do you save money on everyday household items?
Link up below to tell others your great frugal ideas. Please link up to your post and not your main page. And please make sure to link back to my page.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #2

Monday, August 17, 2009
Another Monday is on the way!
I hope you find time in your kitchen this week to cook for your family and of course yourself. Also, take time to appreciate having a kitchen and food to put on the table. I'm so thankful we have these things. God has blessed us tremendously!
Here's what's on the schedule for this week.

Corn-Stuffed Pork Chopped (Taste of Home cookbook)
Green Beans

Cook's Night Off (I have circle with girlfriends from church so Hubby is on his own. He usually goes to his mom's for dinner or has some leftovers from the week/weekend)

Beef and cheese tostadas
Mexican Rice

Barbecue chicken (indoor grill)
Baked Potato

Personal calzones (find the recipe here for the dough)
(I'll fill with mozzarella and cheddar cheeses and pepperoni's for Hubby and pepperoni's and sausage for me, along with the cheeses)
Breakfast: Biscuits with homemade jam and fruit
Lunch: Sandwiches on 6 in, whole-wheat hoagies with tortilla chips
Rice (we like rice)

Lunch: Burgers and potato fries
Dinner: Blueberry Pancakes and bacon

This post is linked to Organizing Junkie.

Quick and Easy Pizza Dough

Here is the recipe for my pizza crust.
It's easy and delicious. And it doesn't take long at all to put together.

Quick and Easy Pizza Dough (Yield 1 pizza dough)

2 cups flour
1 Tbsp yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2/3 cup water (plus an additional 2 tbsp)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp italian seasoning (optional)

1. Mix 1 cup flour with all other ingredients (I use my KitchenAid stand mixer with the paddle attachment).
2. Gradually add 2nd cup of flour until it forms a ball. Use your hands to form and knead the dough.
3. Let the dough rest 10-15 minutes in a bowl covered with a dish towel to keep it warm.
4. Roll out and place onto greased pizza pan or pizza stone with your favorite toppings.
5. Bake at 375* degrees for approximately 15 minutes.

*I can get 2 pizza doughs out of this one batch, we like thinner crusts. Also I put my crust in with no toppings for 5 minutes to make it crispier. If you do this make sure to poke holes in it with a fork so it doesn't puff up. Then take out of the oven and place toppings on it. Bake for 10-15 minutes more.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Vanilla Pound Cake and Chocolate Sauce

Hubby and I went to my parents last night for a delicious dinner. We had beef brisket, twice baked potatoes, salad and bread. I made dessert (I usually end up bringing dessert wherever we go). I found a wonderful pound cake recipe from Blessed with Grace that I wanted to try. I made it and it turned out wonderful! I also took cut-up strawberries, low fat cool whip and a homemade chocolate sauce to go on top if anyone wanted any, and they did. :) I forgot to take a picture of it, sorry, but believe me it was good!

Vanilla Pound Cake-modified from Blessed with Grace

2 large eggs
3 large egg whites
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350* F. Coat a 9-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, vanilla extract and almond extract; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter until blended. Beat in sugar, baking powder and salt until blended. Beat in flour and egg mixture, little by little, beginning and ending with flour.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes. (Mine took right at 60 minutes).
Cool cake in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 12 slices and serve. Yields 1 slice per serving.
(I made the cake the night before, cooled completely and wrapped in foil. At dinner I popped it into a warm oven to heat back up. I served it with cut-up strawberries, cool whip and chocolate sauce.

Divine Chocolate Sauce- from Cuisine At Home

1/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate chips)

Bring cream and corn syrup to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Place chocolate in a bowl and pour cream mixture over. Let stand about 1 minute to melt, then whisk until smooth.
I made chocolate a couple hours before, cooled completely and stored in fridge. I heated it up for about 35 seconds right before dinner. Easy and delicious!

I ended up having leftover pound cake, about half the cake. When we got home I cubed it into 1-inch pieces and stored it in the freezer in a freezer bag. We have a Sunday School party in 2 weeks and I have a recipe that I'm going to use that calls for pound cake. And homemade pound cake is even better so it works out great! I'll save time and money with that dessert b/c I already have most of the ingredients and the cake is cut-up. All I'll have to do is dump it in the serving bowl with everything else and it'll be ready to go. (Check back for that recipe in a couple of weeks. I've made it before and it's amazing!)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Favorite Find Friday #1

I ran around town yesterday with a good friend and we happened to find ourselves at Dollar Tree. I have to say I like Dollar Tree; I think they have some decent stuff in there (depends on the day sometimes) and you can't beat everything being $1. I only had $1 in my pocket so I had to find something great, lol.
I found myself on the hair care isle and ran across a bottle of Got2b mousse. I think its a good brand when I see it, but I'm not sure. I haven't really seen this brand or know anything about it. But I'm almost out of mousse so what the heck I get it. I just looked this brand up online and it runs anywhere from $4-$7. Oh wow, and I only paid a buck for it!
I've had a buy one, get one free coupon for a Herbal Essence product, any kind in my coupon organizer for a couple of weeks, and I've been on the hunt to find the best deal for that brand and the best is at least $3.25 (at Dollar General). I have a hard time paying for something that is just fixing my hair and not doing much else. I'd rather spend $3 on some heavy cream to make homemade ice cream, lol.
Obviously it pays to shop around! I found a great hair care product for $1 this week. That is some good frugal living!

Have you found any great finds this week?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Homemade Bagels

I conquered my fear of bread making!
I have tried before and failed miserably, this was about a year ago. I was trying to make a regular white bread and it was so dense and horribly disgusting. So I have been wanting to try again making homemade breads, bagels, etc. Before I didn't feel I had a great, easy-to-follow recipe for the bread items I wanted to make so I just bought regular bread from the grocery store. Boy have I been missing out!
But today I tried bagels and I just got done making my first batch. They aren't the best looking bagels, but they are awesome! I know the more I make them the better they'll look. The recipe I used is from The Happy Housewife, titled "Bagel Tips." I didn't have the 1 tbsp of gluten, but I went ahead and made them anyways and they turned out just fine. I didn't feel there were too many steps, she explained everything easily and had great pictures so I could make sure I was on track. I did half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat for the flour needs. And I didn't do the egg wash step, I just didn't feel it was needed. So easy! I don't know why I've been so afraid to make bagels.
These bagels are a little crunchy on the outside (which I love) and chewy on the inside. So yummy! I got 15 from my batch. I like my bagels a little smaller because I can't seem to finish one of those giant ones. These are so much better than store bought! I don't think I'll ever buy from the store again. Conquer your fear of bread making and jump in!

Next bread fear to conquer are english muffins! I found a recipe that looks pretty simple as well. These will be great for breakfast as well as for english muffin pizzas which we like to eat. You can find the recipe for the english muffins here from The Happy Housewife again. It's close to the bottom of the page of her "Baking Day" blog.
Check back at a later date for how the english muffin trials went.

Old bread to bread crumbs

I've started making my own loaves of bread for Hubby and me and wanted to get rid of the bread from the bread store (and it was getting old as well). I like to buy bread crumbs from Aldi but they can get expensive if I end up buying a bunch and that's not what I want to spend my $40 a week on. So I decided to make my own bread crumbs. I was a first timer for this bread crumb thing. I've been reading about it at other blogs and thought it sounded pretty simple so I'd give it a go. Turns out it was easy!

I left my bread out overnight to let it get a little stale.
Then I cut it into smaller pieces to make it easier on my food processor.

I put the cut-up pieces in the food processor and let it go to work. It took no more than 10 seconds to make the bread into crumbs.

And here's the crumbs. I'm storing them in an airtight container and I'll put them in the freezer since we won't be going through them very quickly so they'll keep for awhile.

What have you tried lately that you didn't think you could do?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Monday, August 10, 2009
Happy Monday to You!
Here's the dinners I have planned for the week.
It's pretty warm here but I have a small toaster oven that I'll be using for the few recipes I have on the menu that require an oven instead of cranking up the big one. And the forecast says it'll be raining through Wednesday (we'll see if that actually happens) so it will be nice to have a warm meal to help with the cold rain.

Chicken Vino Bianco (a knock-off from Olive Garden)--it has a whole bunch of steps but I've been wanting to try it for a long time and I've been putting it off.
Enchilada Stuffed Shells (from my Taste of Home cookbook that I got on sale for $8!)
Pulled Chicken Sandwiches (I made them over Memorial Weekend and they were fantastic)--I'll probably use a regular hamburger bun
Saucy Pepper Steak (I made this a couple of weeks ago and have been craving it ever since, it was awesome!)--I'll leave vegetables out of Hubby's portion b/c he isn't a huge fan and put an extra onion in for myself b/c I love them so much!
Homemade Blueberry Pancakes with light maple syrup and bacon
Breakfast: leftover pancakes
Lunch: on your own
Dinner: Homemade Chicken Bowls (this is a new recipe I found and have been wanting to try, don't know if Hubby will like it b/c he likes his foods separate :) but he's going to venture out and try it anyways)
Breakfast: quick bowl of cereal, then off to Church
Lunch: Leftover chicken parmesan over whole wheat pasta
Dinner: ???

Have a great Monday!

A Stocked Kitchen

A well-stocked, organized kitchen is very important to me. It makes the cooking process easier and I know what I have in my kitchen at all times so I don't accidentally buy 3 more packs of flour when I already had 2 stocked away. We live on a budget and a mistake like this could be hurtful at the end of the month when/if we need milk or some sort of other staple item.
I like to make most everything from scratch. It's healthier, its fun and it has a better taste than store bought. The lists below are what you'll find in my kitchen most of the time. If I'm low on one of these items it's not for long. I like to have plenty in stock when I get the urge to make something. And getting the urge happens quite a bit so I have to be prepared.

Here is my "must-haves" list for the kitchen:
*wooden spoons (I have 4)
*plastic spatulas (I have 4)
*multiple size mixing bowls (I have 3 glass and 5 stainless steel)
*whisk (2)
*measuring cups/spoons (I have 3 sets)
*cheese grater
*strainer (I have 4, different sizes)
*rolling pin
*pots and pans (obviously)
*cookie sheets (I have 5+)
*loaf pans (I have 4)
*cutting boards (I have 4)
*stand mixer
*hand mixer
*food processor

Ingredients you'll more than likely find in my kitchen at all times

*flours (all-purpose, whole wheat, bread)
*sugars (white, light brown, powdered)
*powdered milk
*olive oil
*vegetable oil
*butter (the real thing, unsalted to control our salt intake)
*baking powder
*baking soda
*vanilla extract
*almond extract
*corn starch
*salt and pepper
*vegetable shortening
*chocolate chips
*cake mixes

Cooking Supplies:
*tomato paste and sauce
*stewed and diced tomatoes
*green chilis
*rotel mix (knock-off brand)
*pasta (whole wheat, all kinds)
*chicken broth
*chicken and beef bullion cubes
*dry beans
*rice (white and brown)

Freezer items:
*fruits (mixed, blueberries, strawberries, peaches)
*boneless, skinless chicken breasts
*ground beef/turkey (divided into 1 lb. portions)
*boneless pork chops
*veggies (buy fresh, chop and freeze)
*nuts (pecans and walnuts pieces)
*ice cream (homemade of course)
*leftover convenience meals (for Hubby to take to work for lunch if no leftovers from dinner the night before)

Fridge items:
*milk (we like skim)
*eggs (at least 2 dozen)
*cheeses (cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan)
*pepperoni's (I make pizza quite a bit)
*heavy cream
*cream cheese (2-3, 8 oz pks)
*butter (4+ sticks)
*fresh fruit or frozen fruit thawed (for cereals and bread recipes)

My kitchen tools listed are the basics, but I use almost everything from that list on a daily basis. I have many more kitchen gadgets that I don't use frequently but enough that I don't mind all the space they take up. :)
And my list of foods can be at all times (for the most part). If you're serious about making things from scratch and cooking great meals everyday, this is a great starter list. Some things I have on my lists I recently added to my kitchen since we're trying to eat healthier (whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, whole-wheat flour).
Most of my kitchen tools we were blessed with from wedding gifts. I thought ahead of what I would want for now and would probably use in the near future. Glad I thought ahead because I definitely use them a lot.
I hope you found this list helpful and I hope you find wonderful joys in your kitchen as I have found in mine.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Workspace

Here are pictures of my kitchen work area. This is my favorite room in our apartment. It's where all good cooking and baking goes on. It's a pretty big kitchen for an apartment. I'm so thankful for all the counter space and storage space (and all the cabinets are full). I just love all the creations that happen in here. Enjoy!

Command Central
That is my monthly menu on the left of the fridge. I also have an inventory of the freezer on the right. It has plenty of room to add to when I buy freezer items. When I use them I just mark it off the list. Under the inventory list is my grocery list that is organized by the items I buy most. On the grocery list you can also find a list for other places I frequent for household and toiletry items. There are my aprons hanging on the wall. And next to that our big white board with our monthly calendars, (no food) with our schedules and appointments. On the other half of that board is Hubby's weather updates. He loves the weather and he lets me know what will be happening in the next few days by writing on that board.
Prep area and tool holder
The stove and microwave, pretty basic. My recipe book that I put together myself, my recipe box from my momma and all the other kitchen tools I use almost every night. This is also another great prep are and great to serve from.
Sink and Prep Area
This is the sink and the part of the counter where I do most of the prep work. The light is best in this area. And what is the bright yellow rag doing under my mixer? It is a wash cloth that makes it easier for me to pull the mixer out from the corner and use it. And I use it so much that it doesn't make sense to store it in a cabinet.

The Pantry
Top shelf: Baking goods in their own, labeled containers and a few extra food items.
2nd shelf: Snacks and such.
3rd shelf: Salad toppings, rice and 6lb. jar of peanut butter.
4th shelf: All breakfast items.
5th shelf: Spices that won't fit into my spice cabinet and extra bottles of marinades.
Floor: You can't see the bottom of the pantry but that is where the extras foods are stored.
Well that is my kitchen. I hoped you enjoyed the tour!