Friday, July 27, 2012

Cleaning out the pantry

As I've mentioned before, David and I use the eMeals plan to cook a lot of our dinners. It helps us save money at the the store, and we've learned new recipes and become better cooks because of it. Some of the recipes are so good that we've written them down to reuse later.

This week, however, we took a different tactic. I'd cleaned out the fridge and cabinets to get rid of all the old and expired food, but there was still so much left over. We decided to skip the grocery this week and make dinners using whatever we had, until we'd used up all (or at least most) of what was in the fridge and pantry.

We really only had to do this for three nights this week, as we made a big steak dinner (YUM) on Monday night to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, and we have plans to go out tonight to--again--celebrate our anniversary. (Some people celebrate by going on a weekend trip. We just eat a lot.)  :)

I did go to the grocery on Monday for that night's dinner, and I went back again yesterday to get some basics like milk and cereal. But for the other three nights, we made dinner using only what we already had.

Here's what was on the menu:

TUESDAY: Quesadillas

We already had frozen chicken, tortillas, tomato, shredded cheese, onion, and sour cream on hand. We even had chips and salsa. We used our quesadilla maker that was a wedding gift.

WEDNESDAY: Salmon, macaroni and cheese, green beans, and a Caesar salad

David's brother had come over, so we invited him to stay for dinner. Even with the last-minute extra person, we had plenty of food.

THURSDAY: Chicken and pasta with olive oil/spaghetti sauce, tomato, and cheese

I put some frozen chicken in the crockpot along with some cream of broccoli and a little onion and celery. The original plan was to make it with stuffing, and maybe some more green beans, but we changed plans up at the last minute and instead had it with pasta. The olive oil  was for me, and the spaghetti sauce was for David.

Not bad, right? These were real meals I'd cook even if I had a full pantry. On one hand, it's kind of embarrassing to know we have all that food, yet we still keep shopping every week. On the other hand, it feels great to know we're using up food we already have and saving some money along the way.

Even with purchasing steaks, our grocery bill was lower than usual this week, and it would've been considerably lower had we not gotten the steaks (but hey, you have to celebrate the anniversary, right?). We used up the rest of the pasta yesterday. I can't remember the last time we didn't have some pasta in the house!

Do you ever have a no-shopping week to use up food? What are some of your favorite go-to recipes? How do you celebrate anniversaries and other special occasions?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Laundry room update

Remember way back when I mentioned that I wanted to update the laundry room? Let me refresh you with a photo of what it used to look like:

Lots of random stuff all piled up on bare boards that are balanced on (as in, not attached to) metal brackets. Seafoam green wall. Yes, this is the stuff of one's laundry room dreams.

Or, you know, maybe not.

But here's what I, an award-winning blogger, have learned: a can of paint and a little cleaning makes a big difference.

Oh, and a few cheap baskets from Michael's and a homemade chalkboard help, too.

Now, after some cleaning and throwing away and reorganizing, and after a few coats of paint on the board and a chalkboard on the wall, I give you this:

It's probably not Pinterest-worthy, but it's definitely nicer to look at. I like the way the colors all work together.

The pink and white basket holds ironing supplies (well, other than the ironing board on the left, obviously). The navy one has dryer sheets and a few random odds and ends that fit much more neatly into the basket than they ever did when stacked haphazardly on the shelves.

(Side notes: Yes, we have random things like plastic cups and paper plates on our laundry room shelves. That's what happens when you live in a 1500-square-foot condo and don't have tons of extra space to work with. And if you're wondering about the large Styrofoam ring on the right, it came with the washer. You're supposed to put it in the washer whenever you move it so that it holds in place rather than shifting and possibly breaking. I'd never have even thought of that, but hey, those people at Whirlpool know what they're talking about.)

Have you found any quick, easy projects that make a space look a lot better?

Sorry for my lack of posting lately (and the fact that it took me a while to get this project up on the blog). I've had a busy summer with lots of traveling. I've also been working on some other projects--too busy working on them to write about them, apparently! I'm hoping to catch up with the posts soon.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Blogger awards

Hello, everyone. It's been a while! I've been busy with all kinds of stuff, including projects, traveling, and much more.

I'm here to talk about a blogger award I recently received: the One Lovely Blogger Award and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. OK, I guess technically that's two awards. I don't think my blog is all that lovely or inspiring (the irony that I'm writing a post recognizing how inspiring I am when I'm posting for the first time in almost a month is not lost on me), but I still appreciate the recognition!

Lisha from One House One Couple nominated me. Thanks, Lisha!

If you don't already follow her blog, you should. It's awesome. And--speaking of awards--inspiring. Very inspiring. She and her husband bought a house and basically redid the whole place (we're talking some serious renovations) and sold it.

I get overwhelmed painting the bathroom. So redoing a whole house? Whoa.

The rules of these awards:

Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post, share seven things about yourself, and nominate 15 bloggers you admire, leaving a comment on each of their blogs to let them know they've been nominated.

Seven things about me:

1. I'm left-handed. There are a lot of lefties in my family. In fact, my brother and I are both left-handed, but our parents are both right-handed. Weird, right?

2. I love college sports. I grew up in a state (Kentucky) with no pro sports teams of any sort, so most Kentuckians care more about college sports than professional sports. My favorite teams are the University of Kentucky and Xavier University.

3.  I swam competitively for 15 years. I was a distance swimmer (meaning I swam long, boring events like the mile). I can't wait for the Olympics to start soon!

4. I enjoy learning foreign languages. I took four years of Spanish in high school and even majored in it in college. I also took two years of German in high school and a semester in college (I wanted to do more but couldn't fit it into my schedule). I even received an award in high school for studying multiple modern foreign languages, and I got a foreign language scholarship in college!

5. During the day, I usually leave HGTV on in the background whenever I'm doing stuff around the house.I could seriously watch it all day. I probably wouldn't accomplish too much else, though, if I did that.

6. I haven't visited much of the western half of the U.S. However, I have visited six different countries in Europe (England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, and Germany). London is one of my favorite cities ever. Lucerne, Switzerland, is pretty fabulous, too.

7. I love to read. Once I find a book I like, it's not unusual for me to reread it every year or so.

Other blogs:

OK, I'm still pretty new to the blogging world, so 15 blogs seems like a lot to me. So, instead, I'm going to nominate.... one. Yep. Just one. Am I a slacker? Perhaps. But you're talking to someone who hasn't posted on her blog in a month, so it seems fitting.

Anyway, here's my nomination: Ashley from Attempts at Domestication. I think I've read just about every entry on her blog, and I've really enjoyed following along as she and her husband fix up and decorate the house they recently bought. Her latest project is pretty awesome. (Oh, and she has some good recipes, too!)

Thanks again, Lisha!