Saturday, January 25, 2014

Meals Planned, Made and Eaten

Will wonders never cease?  This week I created a very loose meal plan and actually managed to stick to it.  Simply amazing.  So often I plan meals and then when the day arrives I just don't feel like eating what I have planned to make.  Or, I don't feel like making what I have planned to make.  Or, calling for pizza delivery just seems so much easier.

Last week Saturday I made the simplest of simple chuck roasts.  I threw it in a crock pot, dumped a jar of salsa on top and cooked on low for about eight hours.  When it was done I shredded the meat and Sunday night we used it in soft-shelled tacos.  Wednesday I used the crock pot again to make baked potatoes and then topped them with the shredded beef.

Other easy dinners this week were silver dollar rolls with turkey and cheese, chicken nuggets and french fries the night that the husband works late and another crock pot meal of pepper steak served over minute rice.

Today my plan is to roast a chicken.  Yep, a real, whole chicken.  I'm experimenting to see which is better - buying a whole chicken on sale and roasting it myself, or just picking up a rotisserie chicken.  If that doesn't chicken us all out  I may make slow cooked chicken chili this week.

I haven't spent much time thinking about anything else to make this coming week.  Last week I had thought about making a bow tie pasta bake so that is being moved to the list for this week.  Those three things may be enough if I consider leftovers on at least one night and the chicken nugget Tuesday  night tradition.

Now I'm off to dig out my roasting pan.  See you all when the chicken's done.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Three Weeks In

It's three weeks into the new year and I have managed to not give up on any of my resolutions yet.  That's easy when you actually didn't make any resolutions.  Actually, I do have resolutions, they are just long standing ones that I didn't need New Year's to come up with.  Mine seem to have remained the same for years.  Lose weight, eat healthier, meal plan, clean up the clutter, spend less money, update the blog more, etc. etc.

This past year I've actually managed to lose thirty pounds ever so slowly but oddly not by eating healthier, just by eating less.  Still, I'll take it any way I can get it.

Meal planning?  I managed to meal plan for a few weeks out of the entire year.  And by meal plan I mean actually writing down meals for a week or more at a time rather than figuring out what's for dinner on my drive home from work.  What I did manage to accomplish this past year was moving the kids out of eating most of their meals at their little chairs and tables in the living room to eating most meals together as a family in the dining room.

Sad to say that the clutter remains.  It seems that just when I feel like things are getting under control another huge stack of mail arrives that I don't get through, or one kid hits a growth spurt and I'm sorting through bins of clothes again, or things get so busy between home and work that I just lose the motivation to stay on top of things.  One thing I did right at the beginning of the year to help with my email clutter was to sign up at  The program searches through your inbox and finds every subscription email (I had a whopping 78) and then asks you if you want to unsubscribe from each company's emails, keep the emails coming to  your inbox, or instead, add the emails to a daily roll-up email from  I did about half and half.  I unsubscribed from companies I have no long standing relationship with and just browsed their site or purchased something for a very limited purpose and I added ones from places I shop often like Target, Kohl's, Land's End and Groupon to my daily roll-up.  Now I have fewer emails coming to my inbox and many that still do end up in one, tidy email I can review all at once.  Thanks

My resolution to spend less money is about even in success as cleaning up the clutter.  I go through spurts where I'm really good at not needlessly spending money, clipping and using coupons and seeking out deals and then I seem to go through even longer spurts where I do none of the above.  Two things that help me a little bit in this department and that I've managed to stick with are an app named Viggle and the Swagbucks web site.  I use both to earn points which I can then convert into gift cards.

Viggle is a pretty simple app in which you earn points by having your phone or other device listen to what you're watching on television and then earning points for every minute you watch.  Everyday there are bonus shows that if you check into them you earn more than just one point per minute and then there are also ads you can click on and earn points for watching them. You can earn even more points by playing trivia during tv shows or playing a fantasy football type game called MyGuy.  Over the almost two years that I've been "Viggling" I've earned over $500 in gift cards, mainly to Best Buy and Amazon but also Target, Old Navy and Starbucks.  Now, I don't really shop at Best Buy that often but it's pretty easy to trade in a Best Buy gift card for an Amazon one using sites like Cardpool.  And, I use Amazon all.the.time.

Swagbucks is another way I earn gift cards.  Every month I manage to rack up enough points to earn at least $25 in Amazon gift cards and then every so often I splurge and use my points for $100 gift cards to typically Amazon or Target but what makes Swagbucks better than Viggle is the sheer variety of gift cards available.  In only about a year and a half I've earned $750 in gift cards.  There are a ton of ways to earn points on Swagbucks.  Mainly I watch videos and earn my points that way but I have also answered surveys, shopped online for things I was already going to buy but because I get to say the Kohl's site from the Swagbucks site I earn points for every dollar I spend and I use their search engine and every few searches or so they award me swagbucks.  

The above links will take you to the sites so you can get started on de-cluttering your inbox or earning gift cards throughout the year.  The Swagbucks link is a referral link in which I would earn bucks on any searches done but the other links are just plain old links.  As with all things, you get out of it what you put into it.  It took me a little while to figure out good ways to earn more points and bucks on Viggle and Swagbucks so if you find yourself needing tips just let me know!

Now to get going on the resolution to update more often......but first, I need to finish the laundry.