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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Budget Friendly Productive Morning

The easiest way for me to stay on a budget, especially a food budget is to make and freeze cookies and homemade bread. 

Dave Ramsey recommendations to getting out of debt is eating rice and beans. I have found better and more appetizing ways to keep on budget then just rice and beans - although they are great fillers to stay on budget. A steady diet of rice and beans makes your palate sad. I need treats to survive. I wish I didn't, but I do. 

I usually go about a month before I have to go to a grocery store. This is because when we are hungry, we go in the kitchen and open the fridge to see what we can eat. Nothing looks good because we really want a snack (out of meal time). 

I try to keep my freezer full of bags of homemade cookies so that we always have cookies on hand. I take a day every other week or when needed to bake bread and cookies and put them the freezer. That way I always have them on hand. When a bag is nearly empty I pull another bag out of the freezer to thaw. They are just as good as when newly baked and I only have to heat up the oven for one day of baking.

If we have things to eat on hand, then I don't go to the grocery store until we are out of milk, eggs, veggies and fruit. If we crave chips and are out we pop some popcorn which takes care of the same craving. 

This morning while it was still cool outside and my windows were open, I baked up 3 batches of cookies because I took the last bag of cookies out of the freezer last week. 
Lately I've been making homemade Oreo cookies too, but I was out of cake mixes and cream cheese. My freezer won't have them again until I go to the store and stock up again.

Today I made Ginger Snaps, Peanut Butter Crisscrosses Cookies and Chocolate chip with Peanut butter chip cookies (tastes like a Reeses Peanut butter cup in a cookie). 

My freezer is full again to keep me on budget. When I don't go to the store I don't spend money! The longer I can stay away from going to the store, the more money I save.  I love food storage and always keep the following on hand at all times (A years supply) - flour, sugar, brown sugar and spices, plus I always keep eggs in the fridge to last a month. That way my freezer is full of cookies and bread. 

One final note, I re-use the freezer bags because cookies aren't liquid and the bags are still good to use again. I just wipe out the cookie crumbs and they are ready to go with a new batch of cookies. I'm frugal that way. 

Recipe: Peanut Butter Crisscrosses Cookies

This is one of my favorite cookies! I've always loved them since I was a little girl. My children never loved them as much I do, their loss because they are soft and yummy!

Peanut Butter Crisscrosses Cookies:

1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Thoroughly cream together the shortening, sugars eggs and vanilla.
Stir in peanut butter.
Add flour, baking soda and salt and mix well.

Roll into one-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. 
Press each cookie with back of a fork - one way and then the other way - making a crisscross pattern.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 9 minutes or until lightly brown. Be sure not to over cook - which makes the cookie hard and not soft. I just always go for 9 minutes. 

Melt in your mouth deliciousness!
Love them!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Brady's Nerdy Nummies Smart Cookies

It all started with a little inspiration from Rosanna Pansino and her YouTube video "Nerdy Nummies Smart Cookies:

Brady decided he wanted to create some cute food and first on his list was her Nerdy Nummies Smart Cookies:

We discussed it on the phone and I have never heard of Cookie Icing - I've only known about using chocolate to make shapes and detail. He asked me where you get colored chocolate and I told him to go to a craft store like: Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Zurkers, Craft Warehouse - whatever was close to where he lives.

He went to Michaels and this is what he said on facebook: Michaels is the Best Store Ever! Prepare yourself world, this geek is going to get creative. 

A friend asked: What are you making? 

Brady replied: Nerdy Nummies! Nom nom nom nom 

Autumn said: You should checkout Hobby Lobby, I am obsessed with that store.

Brady said: I might, I asked my mom - ie Cooking goddess, where I could get some colored chocolate melts, and she included Hobby Lobby in her list. 
Brady's cookies!

He used my Mrs. Fields chocolate chip recipe here:  One of the reasons I blog recipes is for my children's quick access - and mine too of course. 

He said on facebook: I used my own chocolate chip recipe from my mother's grimore, and used chocolate for the glasses, eyes and blush instead of cookie frosting. 
They are just darling! His first time molding chocolate was a success! 
Of course they taste good! During high school everyone loved my chocolate chip cookies. He said, "Yes, old cross country friends, these cookies just got even more appealing." 
I hope Brady's friends love these cookies. I know this is going to be his new thing creating eye appealing cookies using  Rosanna Pansino YouTube site. I can't wait to see what he creates next. 

FUN!!!! nom nom nom nom
Brady and nerd glasses - oh that is sooooo him! LOL!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Kitchen Updated!

You can click on any picture for a bigger screen shot of my kitchen makeover - all for under $300.
 Here is a look at my kitchen before I re-painted it and updated it.
Here is the AFTER picture. Don't you love it? It's a new beautiful kitchen!!!
I LOVE IT!
 Sometimes I just hated my mauve countertops and sometimes I was fine with it. But I hated the border that I painted white (it was blue when I moved in) because it chipped all the time and just never looked good. 
 There were some flaws and dings and needed an update, but I knew I'd have to save like mad to afford any type of change, not to mention the mess of replacing your kitchen.
Here is the after picture of the back of my island where I'm missing a panel. It's not nearly as noticeable as before - especially when the bar stools are there. Where the counter had that broken corner, you can't even tell anymore.  (One day I'll replace the purple carpet - ha ha ha!)
 Luckily I saw and pinned a new painted countertop post on Pinterest. I thought I could do it and ordered the countertop kit from Giani. It was $69.95 for the Chocolate Brown kit. Much cheaper, less time and less mess then replacing the whole countertop and cabinets.

I was worried about how the white edge would work out when I painted it. It was a scary thing to just go forward and do it. I purchased the kit in the late fall and when I got it, it said you had to have your house at 70+ degrees overnight to have the countertop warm. I can't sleep when it is that hot so I had to wait until the spring to do it. 
Giani paint kit comes with everything you need except frog/masking tape and SOS pad to clean counters prior to painting.
There are so many different possibilities to come up with in each Giani paint kit. No 2 customers will have the same look. It will always be uniquely your own design and countertop.

While I waited, I kept looking at pictures their customers had uploaded on their site - there are so many examples. I kept trying to be inspired and have the courage to just do it. Memorial day weekend I decided to just do it. 
 I actually loved how it all came together. I was so glad that the edges came out flawless. 
 It made me so happy that it did resemble granite countertops. 
 There is still tape along the edges. I didn't go purchase the blue frog tape because I already had masking tape on hand and it worked good enough. I'm just a frugal cheap girl and hate to purchase things if I already have something on hand that will work. 
 The top coat that seals the countertop was a bit tricky for me. The one thing I can recommend is to make sure that the roller is rolling the whole time and that you over lap the top coat. There are several videos on the Giani website that I watched over and over. I am happy with the results. 

Then as I kept looking at the Giani website and Giani facebook page, I decided to paint my cabinets. The Giani Nuvo cabinet paint kit is $79.95 so I ordered it - Nuvo Cocoa Couture Cabinet Kit.
 It took me a whole night to clean the cabinets thoroughly. It was a lot of work to get in each groove and edge. OK, I'll admit it they were gross and it was a lot of hard work. But I wanted the paint to stick so I put in the work. Then I lightly sanded them. The instructions said to sand the edge of the counters because it is a wood look film/paper. The inside of my cabinets are the film/paper wood (not real wood) so I sanded them, just to make sure the paint would stick. 
 I learned that it is better to do a thin coat of paint a couple of times then have it drip. Yes, mine dripped here and there and I had brush strokes. I ended up re-doing these areas until I was satisfied. It took me 2 weekends to completely get it to where I wanted it.
In the Giani Nuvo video the center of their cabinet isn't recessed, so the roller worked for them. It didn't for me and I had a few issues. I thought I could use the brush instead of the roller, but I had brush strokes and if I didn't go the same direction there was a different paint gloss look with each stroke. That didn't work for me, until I went back to the roller and made sure It went in 1 direction. With my thin cabinets where the roller wouldn't fit, I did the roller sideways. The roller does make it look more professional. 
 I've debated and have searched how to re-paint my white fridge black. I was going to do it, but Jason (my son) told me to order some vinyl and that is what I did. I ordered a flower mural that isn't here yet. But I'm excited to see what it does to my white fridge without painting it. I'll post pictures when I do it.
My white fridge with a flower mural. OK, I was really, really disappointed when this arrived. I ordered it off of Amazon as a VINYL mural. Well, it ISN'T vinyl, it is a STICKER!!!! What a rip off!!

Anyway, I'm keeping it on for now. If it was vinyl, I'd be much happier then I am with a sticker. It's very girlie and I do like that it adds some black to the fridge. Oh well - it is what it is (until I can actually find a vinyl mural to replace this sticker).
I finally painted the light fixture. I love how it looks (compared to the photo above and below).
I also ordered the handles from Amazon. I needed 34 handles for my kitchen and I wanted this type. At Home Depot or Lowes they are around $7 each for a total of $245. Yikes, I didn't want to afford that. But, I looked on Amazon and found a kit of 25 and a kit of 10 for a grand total of $102. I ordered them. Each handle was individually packaged with the screws. 

Then the tricky part came up, to drill holes in the cabinets. I was scared to death. It took me a few days to even figure out how to do it. I watched a You Tube video. I also purchased this kit from Home Depot that you put on the edge of the cabinet and it's a guide to let you know where to drill the holes. Well, it didn't work for the size of handles I purchased (7 3/8 inch over all length).  
After sleeping on it, I figured out how to do it. I used a ruler I found at Walmart that was perfect because it had a hole down the center of the ruler that matched up and was the center of the part of my cabinet that the handle was going. I was able to line up the edge of the ruler to the edge of the cabinet and mark where each screw needed to be drilled from the measurement on the ruler. It worked great!

 For the drawers, I used a tape measure from my sewing kit that bends. Because the drawers are not an even length like "10 inches would have a center of 5 inches" I had to figure out the center of the drawer with my bendable tape measure because I'm not going to sit and figure out the math and exactly where that matched up on a ruler. After figuring out the "half mark of the drawer" I used a level to measure and line up where to drill the holes. It was scary, but I did it!!! OK, I'm pretty proud of myself for figuring it out and actually doing it in a way that made it level and look professional when the handles were put on the cabinets. 
 I just love walking into my new kitchen - because it DOES seem like a completely new kitchen to me.
 I love the countertops, the cabinet paint color and the handles. Yea! It's so exciting.

Here are a couple of pictures of the countertop:
The easiest part in my kitchen update was doing the countertops.
 I love how they came out!
It's such a great update from the mauve / white bordered countertops I had before. 
 Also, the frugal girl in me decided to just spray paint my outdated canisters. 
I painted them red and LOVE the new look! I'm very happy with the results - all for under $300. 

One last note, don't paint the countertop first like I did. They recommend painting the cabinets first and then paint the countertop. I totally agree. It was a lot more work protecting them then doing it the recommended way. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Update on Brady


Brady did really well this past year at University of Utah. He has successfully completed his sophomore year! Yeah!

Brady was on the Dean's list again this year and increased his GPS by 0.1. It turns out he is still a smart cookie - of course!!!

He is doing really great in school and keeping up his full time job. He's been able to pay his rent and bills with little help from me. I'm very proud of him.

Unfortunately the job he started in August with Teleperformance working for Century link was going away. Century Link is pulling out of Utah so Brady was losing his job the end of April. 

He was able to fine a new job with the Geek Squad for phone support - Hooray!!! He does phone support for Best Buy customers. 
He started training on May 5th and is loving this job much more then his last one. I'm glad it is in something he loves and is going to school for - computer science. 

He gets a small break this summer because he isn't going to school - but still working full time. At least he was able to start a job while he wasn't going to school like last year. It was really hard going to training full time while school is going. 

He has been really blessed with being employed and even finding a newer better job.

I'm so proud of him!

Of course I miss him like crazy. I haven't seen him since I took him down to Salt Lake City last August. But, I'll see him in July!!!! I can't wait!

Ginger Shots

Autumn was sick when Rhonda and Autumn arrive in Boise for our Wicked party.

Brandon (Zoey Michelle's husband) has been juicing and told her she needed a Ginger shot. So Brandon looked on-line for a Juicing Bar in Meridian who we could purchase a Ginger shot from.

Autumn was a little scared to have one, so we all decided to join in and have one with her. Here is a picture of our Ginger shots.

We all grabbed one and toasted, the 1 ..... 2 ..... 3 and we all drank it.

WOW!

Burn!

I started laughing about how this is how LDS people get to feel how a shot of alcohol feels. Burn!

After a while we felt better, but for about an hour - that burning goodness of a Ginger shot warm in our chest. It was fun that we all did it together - or we were just a bunch of crazy people following Brandon's advise - lol!

Autumn and Rhonda's cute picture with our Wicked - "going to the Emerald City" glasses.

We had such a great time together, but it was much too short! Plus, Autumn missed her new husband terribly because it was their first time apart since they were married. 

Jadyn's Baptism

May 3rd, I had the privilege to attend my niece Robyn's daughters baptism.

I love these announcements they do now. She is such a beautiful girl. I love the last picture of her holding her blessing dress on her way to 3 white dresses! 
Jadyn's dress was beautiful! It was a wonderful day to be there and watch Jadyn be baptized and confirmed. I know she will remember this day always.

I love baptisms and I miss being a CTR 7 teacher, going to monthly baptisms and watching my 8 year old's make this important step in their lives. 

Aunt Sondra gave her a baptism book, like I did when I was a Primary teacher. 

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