Thursday, March 31, 2011

March Month in Review

So here are the few recipes I've linked to this month.... wow, I really haven't tried that much new stuff at all!  We did a lot more eating out and a lot more cooking "old faithful" recipes this month than the last two months, too.  

Pioneer Woman's Apple Dumplings - My sister and I have made this recipe a few times for various gatherings.  If you love apple pie, you should definitely go ahead and make this sometime.  I personally prefer them HOT with a scoop or two of vanilla icecream.  I think it'd probably be BEST with homemade icecream.  A few people asked me last weekend if I had ever made this recipe with peaches, and I can't say that I have, but I plan to try it soon!  I'm also considering changing the soda from mountain dew to something that will go better with peaches... but, maybe I'll try it with Mountain Dew once first because it might be just as good! Side Note: Did you know, South Carolina actually grows more peaches than Georgia, "The Peach State"?  

Zingy BBQ Chicken - This was an easy  throw-together-and-run-out-of-the-house recipe.  BBQ sauce, zesty italian dressing, and chicken.  3 things I pretty much have in my house at all times (which likely means I'll be making this again soon!)  In the crockpot all day, and voila! Instant dinner.  Ryan said he thought it'd also be good on pork chops, so we'll probably try that version sometime soon, too.

Easy Potato Soup in Crockpot - I've got nothing but good things to say about this soup.  Definitely need to have BACON and cheddar cheese around to serve with it.  AWESOME.  Also, have a container in the freezer leftover, and can't wait to heat it up and see how it does frozen.  

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Menu Planning - Week 13

What we are eating this week....

3.26.11 - Grilled Steaks & Baked Potatoes
3.27.11 - Creamy Chicken Crescent Casserole
3.28.11 - Lasagna for me, golf tournament food for Ryan
3.29.11 - Leftover Lasagna
3.30.11 - Dinner out with Bible study
3.31.11 - Buffalo Chicken Pizza*
4.1.11 - Headed to the beach for a long weekend!

*Have you tried the Publix pizza dough they have fresh in the bakery area?  All you have to do is roll it out, put on your toppings and bake it!  Usually they have white and whole wheat, too!  This would definitely also work great for a deep dish pizza made in your cast iron skillet... yum!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Back Yard Re-do..... And so it begins!

Today marks the beginning of a big undertaking for us.  We're FINALLY getting started with our backyard re-do!  In fact, as I type, Ryan and Todd are off at Lowe's shopping for supplies for our new deck addition.  We currently have a back deck that leads down into the yard, but it isn't really big enough to hold both a grill and seating area.

We once thought that we wanted to put in a patio, but based on the way the ground slopes, we determined it would be much easier, and less expensive, to add on a lower level deck.    The weather isn't really cooperating, the forecast is calling for rain around lunch time today, so not sure how much progress will be made before it rolls in.

I'm going to try and document the whole process here on the blog, so here are some "BEFORE" pics of the back yard:
Side view of current deck 
The new deck will be in the dirt area off the steps of the current deck.  Hopefully then we'll get the grill moved down onto the new deck and purchase a table and chairs to enjoy our new back yard!

View from top back corner of yard
View from front corner down to shed (added 2 years ago after the fence extension)
We plan to add a bed with some shrubs down the side fence seen above.

View from shed of back of house
 Once the new deck is added, we plan to put a bed around the bottom of the current deck with knockout roses and some shrubs over to the right of the deck where the yard slopes down a lot!

View of other side fence and top back corner
View of back fence from deck area
 Also, going to add another bed and plants along the back fence.  AND, need to paint the shed gray with white trim to match the house.

And, a cute face that loves to play in the yard :)
He'll be glad when all this work is done an he isn't trapped in the house!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

love this guy....

We're just hanging out around the house tonight, and this guy is keeping us company.... hanging out in one of his favorite spots on the back of the couch.... he has no idea he is entirely too big to try and balance up there.

That's because it was only like yesterday when he was this size..... (this was on the way home from his first vet visit... cuddling with his hedgehog toy)

But, now that he's big, he's also discovered that he can squeeze ever so tightly into our little chairs......

And, one of my all time favorites, the day he surprised his dad at the door with the "I might be dirty, but it was WORTH IT" face.  I don't think he's ever been more proud of himself.

If you didn't love him before, you probably do now :)  Too bad he's mine!    Sorry for the poor quality these blackberry pics, but they definitely show off my Beaufort in all his cuteness.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Starting on Sunday, seems like the theme song of my week is Laura Story's Mighty to Save.  I've gotten in the car 3 days in a row listening to that song.  It was played in our worship service on Sunday.  And the key word that is sticking out to me is EVERYONE, from the first line, "everyone needs compassion". 
I'm awfully convicted this week that sometimes my compassion for others is extended only to those I deem worthy, and that doesn't match up with the kind of love God wants me to have for EVERYONE.  We aren't called to pick and choose which people to love, we are called to love and show compassion to EVERY - SINGLE - ONE. 
I really enjoy music, but rarely has a song to spoken to me like this one has this week, especially a song that I have probably heard a thousand times before.  I can really tell that God had these specific words in mind for me this week and He meant for me to put them into practice.  I've already been in several situations where I've heard or thought something nasty about someone's character and caught myself thinking, "EVERYONE needs compassion.  EVERYONE." 
What a humbling reminder of how to live out the 2nd of God's greatest commandments, to love (all) your neighbor(s) as yourself.
Matthew 22: 37-40
Jesus said: “ 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Money Saving Menu Plan - Week 12

It is supper swap week for me again and I'm making Taco Casserole to give away.  It's getting toward the end of the month and as I look over our budget, I'm trying to pinch a few pennies so we can add more to our savings at the end of this month, so decided to see how much we can save this week eating mostly at home.
3.19.11 - Ryan's best friend Christian and his fiancĂ© Stephanie are coming to town for a Couples' Shower in their honor.  My parents are actually hosting at their house and we'll be chowing down on some yummy Shealy's BBQ with all the fixin's.... I made Pioneer Woman's Apple Dumplings, and they were a hit as always :)
3.20.11 - Supper Swap Day - we'll be eating the Taco Casserole I fixed instead of freezing it
3.21.11 - Jennifer's Stuffed Shells (still in freezer from last supper swap, time to clean'r'out!)
3.22.11 - I'll be eating dinner with girls from work at Yo Burrito ----one of our FAVORITE places with the BEST JARGARITAS (that's a margarita in a mason jar) in town!  Then we'll be heading over to our friends the Gzvodas' to find out whether baby G is a girl or a boy!
3.23.11 - LEFTOVERS!  We've got Bible Study Wednesday night, so instead of going out before or after, we'll clean out some leftovers from the fridge.
3.24.11 - Lorraine's meatloaf & mashed potatoes (Supper Swap)
3.25.11 - Zingy BBQ Chicken... I found this recipe earlier this week, then also got it in an email today from Leigh  in her weekly TOP 10, so decided it was a MUST for our menu plan this week
I'm so thankful for the girls I do supper swap with, even though I don't have children like they all do, I definitely benefit from having a few meals tucked away in the freezer when we're either trying to save money, or I just don't have the time or motivation to cook something from scratch.  I've mentioned this a few times before, but I think EVERYONE should get a group together and give supper swapping a try. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Menu Planning - Week 11

Well, here we are, week 11!  I've got a lot going on early in the week and I haven't really even thought about what we are doing toward the end of the week, so we're sort of going to wing it this week.... So, I'll tell you what I know so far, and then I'll come back and update later as we figure it out!

3.12.11- Ryan took our Strawberry Trifle to supper club (Easy recipe to share with you sometime soon), my sister and I went to meet Ree Drummond, thepioneerwoman at her book signing in Evans, GA (it was awesome, picture sometime soon)
3.13.11- Had a great homemade breakfast, lunch at the baseball game, and grilled burgers for dinner with my parents
3.14.11- I'm watching the MOST DRAMATIC FINALE EVER of the Bachelor with Leigh&Leigh.... we're having a mini-appetizer party, so I've got to throw something together (thinking buffalo chicken dip... also known in this neck of the woods as DANK DIP)
3.15.11- Hosting PREMIER DESIGNS jewelry show.... plan is to serve chocolate pound cake, poor man's brie, and snickerdoodle blondies with sweet tea & lemonade "like chick-fil-a makes".... you should come check out the jewelry & the food :)
3.16.11- We have Bible Study, so we'll probably be eating out or eating sandwiches
3.17.11- ?????? Toss up!
3.18.11- Friends coming to town... not sure what plans we'll have

OH, and I have a brand new little camera, so probably lots of new pictures to come soon.... I've been camera-less for a LONG while now.  It is nothing fancy, but it'll at least give you a glimpse into our life a little more :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I'm up early.....

Well, as you know, I'm generally ALWAYS up early, but today has a lot in store.  I'm super excited about all of it, too!

First things first, I've got to get to the store and grab a few things to make dessert for tonight's supper club.  I'm thinking a strawberry trifle (because nothing says spring/summer like a nice strawberry dessert!)

Then, today is the day we start planning the big back-yard re-do.  Todd (my friend Andrea's husband) is coming over to scope out the job and give us some ideas and price quotes on what we want done.  You can definitely expect some BEFORE, PROGRESS, and AFTER pictures coming your way in the next few weeks as we get this thing started.  

Finally, this afternoon I'll be hopping in the car with my sister to go meet THE PIONEER WOMAN!  I'm beyond excited about this.   We are going to Evans, GA (outside of Augusta) and hopefully we'll get our books signed by and some pictures taken with PW, herself!   AND, shamelessly, we are taking along my nephew, because if you've ever read her blog, PW cannot resist an adorable baby!

Happy Saturday!!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Some random thoughts for today:
1. Why haven't I posted anything other than our menu plans for multiple weeks in a row?  I start blog posts in my head and then they never make it into writing.  So, I've taken to making notes in my email or my phone during the day so it can make it onto the blog eventually.
2. My sister and I are travelling this Saturday to meet someone important.  Well, perhaps not important to you, but important to us!  A daily staple in my life, actually.  We're going to see THE PIONEER WOMAN at her book signing in Evans, GA.  I am beyond excited.  I'm currently reading Black Heels to Tractor Wheels and can't wait to get it autographed by THE woman, herself.
3. Somehow in February, I got bogged down in Leviticus on my Bible reading.  OK, perhaps that doesn't require a SOMEHOW.  The laws that God set out for the Israelites to follow are COMPLICATED.  It is probably just a lack of understanding on my part, but wow, I don't know how they kept up with it.  So, I've got about 10 chapters to go in Leviticus before I can start on Numbers, and I'm going to have to double-time it to get back up where I need to be by the end of March.  Luckily, I've done pretty well keeping up with the New Testament readings and the Psalms, so I'm pretty much on schedule.
4. I'm scaling back on week-night activities starting this week.  For a two years now, I've been taking pilates two nights a week, and I absolutely love it.  But, I started to notice myself stressing over not having enough time to complete household chores, cook dinner, and spend time with my husband during the week, so I had to see where I could cut back.  Pilates is the only thing I do TWICE a week, so I felt like I could cut back one night and still be OK.  This is especially important because Ryan is about to kickoff softball season with a new team, and I need some HOME TIME in my life to keep my sanity. 
5. I've gotten back into going to the gym in the morning.  That's right, BEFORE WORK.  That alarm clock goes off EARLY.  I'm currently taking a class on Tues/Thurs at 6am and trying to figure out how I can make myself get out of the house slightly earlier so I can get in some running time because I'm planning to run in the Heart & Sole Women's Five-Miler at the end of April.  OK, now it's out there, I'm going to run, AGAIN.  Much prayer needed for that :)
6. Hosting a jewelry party next week, thinking about what kind of refreshments to serve.  Definitely want to make desserts, but haven't thought of what all I want to make yet.  Preparing all of that will be Sunday's project.  Oh, what's that you say?  You haven't heard about my jewelry party?  Well, please come hang out, and bring a friend!  Send me a message for more details!

7. Last but not least, you should head over to Leigh's blog and enter her 3-year blogiversary giveaway, featuring awesome creations from Like a Mighty River.  Head on over and enter to win!
OK, I think that is enough for today.  Hope you're having a WONDERFUL Mardi Gras! 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

February Menu Month-in-Review

Things have been sort of crazy, so I forgot to do the month-in-review of new stuff for February....  We only had a few new things that we tried, but here they are in order of their appearance on our menus:

Honey Mustard Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin -  Wow, this turned out to be a little more work than I thought it would be.  First of all, I think my tenderloin was a little bit too large because one strip of bacon would not wrap all the way around it.  Also, I had to search a lot for the kitchen twine (sold in a huge roll at Bed, Bath & Beyond, by the way) and couldn't figure out how to wrap the tenderloin in bacon and then wrap the twine around it without also using toothpicks.  Let's just say, it was WAY complicated for me for some reason.  The honey mustard flavor really didn't come through and it took a LONG time to get done.  It was a good try, but probably will never make it on the menu again due to its difficulty!

Hot Corn Dip - you can click this link and read more how I modified this old party favorite.  What a yummy dip.... I LOVE dips, and everyone at the Superbowl Party loved this one a lot!

Kicked Up Macaroni & Cheese - This is a cool twist on your traditional macaroni.  A lot more dry than other recipes I've made, and DEFINITELY spicier!  I would probably make it again, but add more milk and skip the chili pepper/bread crumb topping.  I don't like my macaroni crunchy!

Smothered Beef & Bean Burrito Casserole - Ryan said he loved this recipe, but I actually didn't end up eating any of it!  The night we made it, we were hosting our monthly dinner club and I ate a ton of guacamole & bean/corn dip so I only ate the chicken enchiladas.  When cooking for a crowd, I love to prepare dishes ahead of time and have them ready to throw in the oven, and this is definitely one you could make and freeze or refrigerate until you're ready to cook it!

So for new recipes, 3/4 for things I'll definitely make again.... maybe you'll see some of these on our March or April menus!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Menu Planning - Week 10

Wow, I can hardly believe I've been successful posting a menu plan for 10 weeks in a row!  So, I guess I cheated some the last few weeks with letting the husband plan and using up some frozen stuff, but it is all about teamwork and using your resources, right?!  We are definitely seeing the benefits of planning our meals ahead of time, both financially AND mentally! 
Saturday 3.5.11 - Dinner w/ Gray & Leigh
Sunday 3.6.11 - Easy Potato Soup in Crockpot (We'll keep any leftovers for lunch during the week)
Monday 3.7.11 - Onion Sausage & Pepperoni Calzones (will use up extra sausage in Thursday's meal)
Tuesday 3.8.11 - Dinner at Carolina Stadium while the Gamecocks play baseball
Wednesday 3.9.11 - Leftovers for me, Ryan boys' night
Thursday 3.10.11 - Baked Ziti w/ Onion Sausage (I'm finally starting to be able to open my freezer without fear that a package of frozen venison will topple out and render me unconscious!  We might be able to finish up this meat before the next deer season rolls around, after all!)
Friday 3.11.11 - Lorraine's Taco Soup (still in Freezer from Supper Swap)
For those who know me well, you know both Ryan and I are also looking forward to the changing to Daylights Savings Time next week on 3/13.  I get extremely sleepy as the sun goes down, so sunset at 6:30pm puts a major dent in my useful hours.  More daylight = a happier, less sleepy, better-adjusted me.   It also means a lot more meals on the grill, so I'm looking forward to spending less time in the kitchen!  Spring/Summer has always been my favorite time of year and I cannot WAIT for warmer weather to be here to STAY!