Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Favorite Finds: Survival Mode!

This week I am participating with Finding Joy in My Kitchen's Friday Favorite Finds.  I've got to make it quick because I am in the end of the school year survival mode.  Each student's crisis becomes my crisis.  I will miss seeing most of them, but I'll leave the reminiscing for next week.  Next Friday I will be relaxing on my deck (that is if I don't get eaten alive).  It is a nice perk of my job.

Here are my finds for the the week (a few is all I could fit in).

Aldi is running pineapple on sale, so this Pineapple Chicken looks like a delicious frugal find!

I'm almost ready to eat salmon again (I got food poisoning and it kind of ruined it).  This Mango Pineapple Salmon might get me over the hump.

Frozen Chocolate Banana sounds like the best summer treat.

Just think in a week I'll be free!  I love me job, but the summer is so refreshing!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What a crock!

Last fall when we moved I lost a very important part of my life.... my mini crock.  I don't use it a whole lot in the winter, because using the oven is so nice and warm and cozy.  Also, in the winter it is fun to cook with my hubbie at night.

Now even in the winter occasionally I would want to use it and then remember that it had gotten lost in the shuffle (tear)  I also own a larger (normal?) sized crock and would think of using that.  However, it is really too big to make food for just two people.  I tried once and ended up with all kinds of crusty stuff that I had to do my best to scrape off.

Last fall during the move, we stayed briefly at someone's summer home.  Last weekend we went back for a visit and what do you know, my crock was there way way back in this cavernous cupboard they have.  I was and am still, soooo excited!  Now that spring has come (and almost summer) we are so busy.

I've been staying late at school trying to stay on top of grading for the tri-annual parent 'oh crap my kid is failing and the trimester is almost done' deluge of emails and forcible turn in of low quality homework papers (student- my parents are making me do this work, but they have no idea what Algebra II should look like so I will scribble random equations on a paper, so that they will get off my back).  Of course the parents should now know every second exactly what their child's overall score in the class is so I must grade their child's mountainous pile of late homework right now.  Plus, I always offer free help after school for an hour, but normally only a handful take advantage of it.  Now that the end is near though I am tutoring the entire hour.  This leads me to staying later at school which means less time for cooking.

This week I have already used my little friend Cathy the Crock once.  It was so nice to come home to dinner pretty much being made.  I normally make up salads, cut up some oranges (my fav), maybe get out carrots/dip or steam up broccoli and we're set!  Then it is quick clean up and out to do some yard work.

If you are a young couple I highly recommend getting a small crock pot/slow cooker with a black crock.  Our large slow cooker is white and it is such a pain to clean.  Honestly, I feel like I never can get it completely white.  However, our black one hides a lot.  No judgement here... sometimes there is just that stain that you just can't get off, but it is clean and safe to eat from.

This week I missed out on Friday Favorite Finds and Menu Plan Monday, but school will be out in the next two weeks and then I should have lots to post!  Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Frugally Fit Friday: Yardwork

This week for Frugally Fit Friday (err... Saturday) I want to focus on the amazing workout of yard work.  It may not be a glorious task, but it can definitely be a workout, which I have learned more with this new house.    So before you go out and buy a riding mower, or pay someone to landscape or mow check out some of the numbers that I ran this week.

On Thursday, I decided to be nice and mow our yard.  Normally this is something that my husband does, but with his new job he gets off work later and he's been doing a lot of side jobs, so his "to do" list was getting long.  We have currently have a push mower on permanent loan.  At our old house that we rented just our front yard was over 0.1 mile long, so there was no way that you could push mow it, so we used the owners' riding mower.  At our new place we have a medium/small yard (in rural Indiana terms), so push mowing is an option.  This was the first time that I have push mowed it.

I thought I would surprise him and have it all done.  Well, it was just a trick to get the mower started.  A little bit of shoulder strengthening exercises is what I could label it as.  Then I had to push it through our grass.  I hadn't thought that our grass was super tall, but my husband has informed me that I am weird in that I like tall grass.  Apparently the grass was long because I could barely push the mower through the grass without it almost dying.  Also, it was hard to push the mower through the grass because of how long it was.  Maybe I'll have to rethink my long grass love, or else I'll have to learn how to raise the deck of the mower.

I only killed the mower once.  I'm still not sure whether it was lack of gas or too long of grass, but it definitely died.  I gave it some more gas (even though, from what I could tell it didn't need a lot) and promptly partially flooded the mower.  I found out later that you don't need to push the red ball if the mower is "warm."  I pushed through the back yard and the sun was blazing down.  It felt good though.  I definitely felt alive.  Our carpenter bees (who's days are numbered) were very upset though.  I rolled my eyes at them and kept moving (they don't sting, just act very territorial).

By the time I reached the front yard I was getting pretty tired, but I was determined to finish it all.  We have a half mound septic system in our front yard and a ditch, so I really worked hard going up and down the mound.  This is how I felt like I looked.

Luckily when I was about halfway done with the front my husband came home and I went in and made us up some food.  All in all I had push mowed for two hours- non - self propelled.

Being the curious person that I am, I looked up the calorie count.  With my weight, I burned over 500 calories!  Not too bad if I say so myself.  I think all of the neighbors thought I was crazy though because they all have riding lawn mowers.  I want to put off buying one as long as possible, because a 500 calorie workout is something that I need on a regular basis.  I like workouts like this one because I am accomplishing something other than just exercising.  Maybe I'll take over more of the mowing chores this summer.

I figure doing yard work like push mowing saves me money in two ways.  First, we currently have a free to us (permanent loan) push mower.  We would have to go out an buy a riding mower.  Push mowers cost only  a couple hundred bucks (if you can convince your significant other to get a reel mower they are even cheaper).  Riding mowers are easily $1000-$3000, and some are more than that.  Push mowers also use less gas (once again- if you can convince your significant other (I can't yet) to get a reel mower, gas isn't an issue, also there are electric mowers out there as well).  Having someone come mow our yard would cost at least $30 a pop.  Finally, if I went to our local gym to get that amazing lawn mowing workout it would cost me $40/month in membership fees.  So overall, push mowing our yard is a huge $$ saver and helps keeps me and the Mr. healthy!

Here is a website that you can go to to look up calories burned by yard work activity and by your weight: Calorie Lab.  They have lots and lots of other calorie calculators.  I find them motivating when I'm not feeling like doing a certain job.

If you need motivation here is a good video I found online (I think Mr. Money Mustache posted it) about the benefits of fitness (and my kind of fitness - low/medium level- not the gym rat level).  Enjoy!

Friday Favorite Finds: A Bit Late

Ok, I know it is no longer Friday, but I thought I would participate anyway.  This week has been really busy at school and at home.  I stuck with my early morning wake up time and it was terrible, but very very needed.  In fact, I might switch to 6:05 next week (6 just sounds so early) that way I have a bit more time in the morning to get things done.

I rode my bike every day, but one because of weather.  I have to say I really look forward to riding it!  It kind of wakes me up in the morning and gets me outside, since I'm not a natural outdoorsy person.  It is really funny how many random comments I get from students.  They are really curious about it, and I hope maybe at a later point in their life they will think about riding as well.  I have found that it is a nice way to sneak in a bit more exercise into my life without it feeling too, excersy (yes I just made up that word).

Well, I am definitely looking forward to the summer just as much as my students.  I am really trying not to get to hyped up about it, because I really really need to make a list of my goals for the summer.  I have a tendency to go great guns for the first week or two and then fizzle out and get really really lazy.  This summer I want to be more purposeful and have weekly goals.  We have a lot of house projects, and I want to completely revamp my Discrete Math curriculum and tweak my Algebra II curriculum (make it more common core friendly).  There's no way I'll get it all done without some kind of plan though.

My first find comes from my desire for summer.  I am really looking forward to free zucchini.  I feel like everyone around here has that friend that some how grew 5 zucchini plants and has zucchini coming out their ears.  I am always a grateful recipient of their surplus (and an understanding one, because we had one zucchini plant and it was too much for me, since my husband will eat, but is not in love with zucchini).

Fried Zucchini Spaghetti from the A & B Stories.  I will definitely add some more veggies to this and maybe pair it with a the Heroin Chicken Strips from Low Carb Crock.

When I was in college there was this delicious Greek/Mediterranean tiny restaurant that was cheap.  It had the best wraps.  Anyway, I found a wrap that looks just as good.

Chicken and Spinach Wrap with Greek Yogurt Sauce from Magda- What's for Dinner.

Avocados have been really cheap here lately and I've been reading all of the amazing ways you can substitute it in recipes.  The main problem is that I am only one person.  By that I mean, my hubbie is not as much a fan of the green stuff which means if it is in guac or something similar, I end up eating the entire avocado (that's a lot of avocado).  I found a way that I can freeze it though, that might help me from having guac overload.  I'll be able to just use as much as I need.

How to Freeze Avocado from My Gutsy.

My Friday Favorite Finds would not be complete without a yummy chocolate recipe.  This week's deviant delight is Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake with Caramel Sauce.

Enjoy more finds at Finding Joy in My Kitchen!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: Early Morning Challenge Week #2

Here's the update on my early morning challenge.  I was able to get up early (not even hit snooze once) on Wed/Thurs/Fri.  Woo hoo, go me!

However, I was just not able to do it on Saturday.  I woke up when it went off, groggily got out of bed (I've moved it to the other side of the room), and turned it off and went back to bed.  I actually remembered my challenge, but said screw it, and jumped back into my really amazing bed.  It is seriously, the best bed ever, which doesn't help.

That probably was actually a good thing, because my husband and I ended up going to prom to supervise a bit and ended up staying up way past when we usually do.  It was seriously such a super fun night.  The music was great and it took everything in me not to get up and get my groove on (my students would be just rolling their eyes at me now).  My husband laughed because my body just automatically starts to move to the beat and when they have that much bass playing you can really feel the beat, literally, like I think my rib cage was vibrating.  I was hard to focus on conversations with the other teachers (many who I had when I was a student) with the fun music playing.  Plus, they kept playing songs from when I was in high school and middle school, so I couldn't resist singing along at least a little bit.  Maybe our music was just better and that is why they were playing so much of it.  And yes, I might have gone home and had my own personal dance party afterward to the summer hits of the 90's and 2000's Pandora stations to get out all of my dance fever.

So anyway, this week should have a somewhat better menu than last week's that was almost too embarrassing to post.  I am linking up with Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

Dinner #1:  Ground Beef and Black Bean Enchiladas.  You might have noticed a lot of ground beef recipes lately.  That is mainly because we were able to get 90/10 hamburger marked down half off at Aldi, which made it less than $2/lb.  I'm not a huge ground beef fan (I don't mind it, but I'm not like gosh, I just have a hankerin' for ground beef), so I have been trying to find some good recipes.  This one looks like a good one.

Dinner #2:  Hot dogs!  We didn't end up having them last week, and I always feel terrible, but I really do like hot dogs.  Something about a hot dog with relish and ketchup just says bring on the warm weather to me.  Also, we pair them with peas (my hubbie's fav veggie), cut up oranges/pineapple, and salad which I think more than evens out any unhealthiness(apparently that is a word because there's not any red squiggly line).

Dinner #3:  Roasted Chicken Thighs.  I have been trying to get around to making these and we always end up eating leftovers.  This is our back up meal if there's not leftovers, but it seems there always are some to use up before the weekend.

My goal for this week is to get up by 6:15 weekdays and 7:30 Saturday.  I think that is a more reasonable goal and if I've learned anything is that I have to set easy goals.  It wasn't until I set my 10 min weekly exercise goal (no that was not a typo- it was a weekly goal of 10 minutes total for the week), that I finally started exercising regularly.

So far I have noticed that the early wake up is not that bad during the week.  I pretty much feel like crap when I wake up whether it is 5:30 (my old job wake up time) or 6:50 (my oh poop I hit the snooze too many times and today is a work day), so I might as well get up a bit earlier.  My husband says my body's get up function is broken and I would agree, because getting up is just terrible (even if I went to bed early), but somehow I manage to do it each day.  I found this on Pinterest and it pretty much describes me to a T, except that I have been doing a much better job (in general) of going to bed early.

If anyone has some magical cure other than coffee (that requires getting out of the bed which is the hard part), let me know.  Anyway, it does make my day feel a bit more calm and put together in the morning when I am up a bit earlier.  It was really helpful this week especially because there was some stuff that happened at school that slowed down my day to a crawl, so I needed every extra minute.

Good luck with your menus and your goals for the week!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Favorite Finds: Early Morning

Here's my sad looking picture of my clock this morning (6:13am)!  Can you tell I have a cheap phone?

This has been a crazy week this week.  On Thursday a random rain shower came through on my bike ride home (20% chance of rain) and I ended up stranded at a local dollar store for 20 minutes.  It was worth it though, because today I chickened out about riding because of the chance of rain and I can honestly say that I missed it.  We also haven't had internet/h drive at school this week, which has made pretty much everything come to a screeching halt.  I had a very fun time describing the "olden days" before you knew what you grade was at every single instant.

Here are my finds for the week:

Baked Potato Soup in a Baked Bread Bowl

Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Watergate Cake

Chocolate Caramel Mini Cheesecakes


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Busy Biking and My New Self Challenge

Well, this week I decided not to post my menu plan on Monday because it was not really worth posting. If you feel you must know it goes: leftovers, family dinner out, Taco Time, grilled hot dogs/side dishes, eat out with friends, eat out with family. I know, I know, it looks terrible.  It is pretty bad because this happens to be some type of education appreciation week which means I get all kinds of sweet junk and breakfasts/lunches (last year we barely had anything (bite size snickers?), so someone must have complained because they are going all out).  So bad food day and night means I have to find balance and should probably do the Jillian workout this week.

Luckily I have been biking more to work.  I barely feel silly anymore.  It is a nice way to wake up in the morning and it helps me feel like I've accomplished something in the evening.  It is easy to get my hour of exercise in each week if I count cycling.  I probably shouldn't though, because this week I will need more than just that.

Anyway, my new self challenge for the rest of this week (through Sunday and then we'll reassess), is a set get up time at 6:15.  I used to get up much much earlier, but it seems that as the year wears on I get up later and later and later and it throws my day off and leaves me groggy.  I am the absolute worst person in the morning.  There have been threats of sledge hammer action.  I always have been a terrible morning person since I was little, but I really want to change to be nicer and calm.  I feel super groggy every morning and I read that almost getting up earlier can help.  So it is worth a try.  If it seems to be good then I will try it again next week.  This is going to be a huge stretch for me on Saturday, but it should be good.  I heard on the radio that getting up at a way different time on the weekend is bad because it is like your body is constantly changing time zones.  For some reason that clicked with me, so I'm going to try it for one Saturday.  My accountability is going to be taking a picture of my alarm to share with the world each day.  I think I might move my alarm across the room as well and maybe change stations, although I do love NPR in the morning.

A good Bible verse for me during those trying mornings will be Psalm 90:14 "Oh satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."

See you tomorrow, bright and early!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Favorite Finds: Happy May!

I am linking up as always with Finding Joy in My Kitchen's Friday Favorite Finds.  This week has flown by.  The weather has been so beautiful and school has been so crazy that I've barely been at the computer for non-school stuff.  Here's a few finds for the week.

Mashed Cauliflower - I'm a mashed potato queen, so this could be a healthier option!

Creamy Asparagus and Mushrooms

Lemon Chicken

Peanut Butter Chocolate Dessert


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