Block Two

With the holidays I was very behind in the layer cake quilt along sponsored by Moose on the porch quilts.  I am supposed to be starting block five this week, but only finishing block two.  Thankfully, I will have time this weekend to finish up the rest of the blocks. 

I am very new to quilting.  I really have never made a quilt andI probably need to take some classes to really learn how to quilt.  It is not perfect.  I have trouble matching my triangles when I quilt.  This block came out a little different than what I had wanted.  I messed up when I cut the pieces, and didn't cut the right amount of fabrics.  Since I only have the layer cake fabric to use, and I have sworn off spending any more money on fabrics for a while, I had to work with the mistakes I made.  I think the block came out okay.  It is  a little small, so I may put a border on this block.  I really am glad I started this quilt along.  It is forcing me to work on something I may not ever had done before. 

The quilt I am making is very colorful.  It is going to help me beat the winter doldrums.  Here in Iowa it is very snowy and cold, although it is supposed to warm up today to 40 degrees. 


Challenge for 2011--$1 per person per day

Okay...Today I decided to take a challenge that Jan at cjpattersonontheranch has joined in on.  The concept is simple, feed your family for just $1 a day.  That's right.  $1.00 per person per day.  The proposal is that if you make a menu and buy only loss leaders at the grocery store, then you should be able to accomplish this.  I am a bit skeptical, but I will try. 

As a mom and student, I am trying to live as debt free as possible.  Over the last year, I have really looked at the grocery budget.  We spend about $600 on average each month.  Trust me that is one large amount.  I must say though, I have not shopped much this month.  I have tried to build my stockpile over the last year.  The last half of the year, I have seen my grocery bill shrink.  I have totally eaten from my stockpile this month.  Feels great to have a month of grocery savings and be able to use this on Christmas shopping.

I have found with a little planning, we can accomplish about anything we can set our minds to.  My family is no exception.  I will be taking next week to work on my meals in my freezer.  My daughter has a very rigorous dance schedule and I am gone two nights out of the week.  this leads to a very sketchy plan for dinner most nights.  Due to necessity,  We need to stop the eating out those two nights.  With a little planning, I am sure we can do this.  If anyone wants to join me in this venture, leave a comment.  I may need encouragement a few weeks into this.  Good Luck to all who have taken on this challenge.  Now I will be off to plan some meals before my Christmas gets too hectic.


Layer Cake quilt along

Originally uploaded by alwysxstitchn

Not too bad for my first attempt at quilting. I have sewn since I was a young girl, but have never made a quilt. I go into quilt stores and buy material, only to have it sit and wait to be used. I decided to start this quilt along to try my hand at quilting. Perfection is not what I am looking for, but practice yes. This is the type of motivation I need.

After much deliberation, I chose the "birdie" layer cake made by moda. I love this fabric. There are pinks, greens, blues, and yellows. For the first block, I chose the blue and brown combination. I was hoping that this quilt would make a wonderful cuddle blanket for me while watching tv, but my daughter saw this block and claimed it for herself. I may be making another trip to the quilt store this weekend. Oh well. The picture is a bit fuzzy, but still a wonderful block. A few mistakes, but a work in progress.


New Experiment

In March we decided to buy our first 1/4 of a cow.  So, I have had soup bones staring at me each time I open the freezer door.  These were waiting for it to become cold, so that I could make a big fresh batch of stock and soup.  I had never tried beef stock and to tell the truth it was a little overwhelming to me.  I have made my own chicken stock and it is so wonderfully good that I wanted to try beef also. 

This experiment started on Thurs. for me and turned into a project that I will most likely repeat more this winter.  I made the best batch of beef stock ever imagined.  It has the best flavor and my "picky" daughter ate two bowls of the soup I made and asked for more for her lunch.  I am very blessed that I will experiment in the kitchen.  Never had I imagined that my cooking would end up saving me money.  It is a HAZARD ladies because now my husband will not go out to eat.  He says that my cooking is better than anything he can have out.  Here are my recipes for my simple beef stew and beef barley soup.

Beef Stock
2 lbs beef bones with meat attached
2 bay leaves
frest thyme to your liking

Season the beef bones with salt and pepper.  Place celery, carrot, and oinion in pan and sweat veggies.  I chopped all my veggies, but you could keep whole if wanted.  I then heated the oven to 450 degrees.  and roasted all this for 45 minutes.  After the roasting process, I put the bones and veggies in a stock pot along with the bay leaves and thyme.  I then filled the stock pot with water and simmered for 6 hours.  This made my house smell so great!!

I then strained the broth and took out all the bits of veggies.  I put in a bowl in the refrigerator and cooled so that I could skim the little fat that was there.  Now it was ready to use for soup.

Beef Barley Soup

3 carrots sliced
3 celery stalks chopped
1 onion  chopped
1 lb. beef for soup cut into little pieces
1 can 18 oz. stewed tomatoes
beef stock to fill stock pot, about 8 cups
1 cup barley
bay leave and thyme to taste

I start my soup by placing carrots, celery, and onion into the stock pot and cooking the veggies.  I then place the beef into the pan and brown on all sides.  I then add the tomatoes and fill the pot with stock.  There you have a very basic beef soup.  I let this simmer all day and about an hour before you want to serve the soup, add the barley.  There you have the "best" soup according to my family.  I hope everyone enjoys this great flavorful soup!!


Poor Man's Carnitas

I am on a mission to not grocery shop too much through the holidays.  I know that I will have to go to the store for baking needs and the Holiday meals, but what about our daily food?  I have vowed to make due with what I have on hand.  I will be buying perishable items and using my pantry more and more.  Isn't that what its for?  Well here is the recipe that I had this evening.  A concoction I made up from having leftovers from a pork roast cooked in the crock pot earlier this week.

Poor Man's Carnitas

2 cups leftover cooked and shredded pork shoulder
1 onion sliced
1 package chicken taco seasoning mix
1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup salsa
Condiments of your choice:  Cheese, sour cream etc.
Corn Tortillas

 Heat a skillet to medium heat.  Cook onions until translucent.  Add the pork saute until pork is a little crispy and brown in color.  Add orange juice and simmer.  Add taco seasoning and water called for on package.  Place pork in tortilla and top with salsa and condiments.  Yummo!!!!

30 day giving challenge

30-Day Giving Challenge

I am joining in on the fun for the 30 day giving challenge. Sponsored by Kingdom First Mom. I hope to make a difference this holiday season.  I am trying to not spend much money also in this challenge.  I hope to clear out clutter from my home and put these items to good use.  Join me along the way.   Maybe we will learn some things about ourselves.

Pantry Challenge

Today I realized that the holiday's are upon us.  No matter how hard we want to believe they aren't coming, they are and soon.  Since it is only a month until Thanksgiving, I am starting a challenge to only eat food from my pantry the next month.  I will continue to grocery shop, but only for the sale items I will need for the holiday's.  I will also be buying eggs, milk, and a few other perishable items. 

I need to plan my future meals for the month this weekend, and I will post my monthly menu here on Sunday!! Now off to make some beef broth from some bones from a cow we purchased.


Iowa State Fair 2011 Challenge

Okay...I did it...I have taken on the ultimate challenge.  I am committing to entering at least a few entries into the 2011 Iowa State Fair.  I have entered the last few years and had to take this last year off due to changes in my family life and a new job.  How is a busy mom of 2 going to accomplish this?  Well we will just have to find out won't we.  Fall is upon us and this is a great time to make some pies.  First on my list is to figure out how to make time in my life to work on this project.  I will have pictures soon!!!  To join in the state fair challenge check out http://iowastatefairchallenge.blogspot.com/!!  I hope you will join us!!!!


Berry Picking

Yesterday, I went the The Berry Patch farm near Nevada, IA. I took the kids and together we picked just over 10 lbs. of blueberries. Now how is this frugal. We had some great fun at the cost of only $28.00. Now for a fun day doing something different, that is a great price and we have fruit to last us for a while. Can't wait to make some blueberry muffins.


Frugal Salad Recipe Contest

Now that it is fully summer, I am in need of some new ideas for dinner. I am really trying to not turn on the AC this year. It is starting to become difficult when it is reaching almost 90 degress already this year. So I need recipes that can be used for dinner either a main dish or side dish. I will be making all recipes submitted and the family favorite will win... a $25.00 barnes and noble gift card to buy a great summer read with. Just put your recipe in the comments section of this post. GOOD LUCK!!!! Deadline is June 10 2010. Winner will be announced by July 4 2010.



Today, I became fed up with all the clutter in my house. I have been trying for the last month to have a garage sale, but life has just gotten in the way. So this morning I put quite a few listings on craigslist. This is a free site to sell your wares on. Very frugal. I will be posting items today and tomorrow. Hopefully, I will sell some stuff and clean out the house. Most of the items I am posting are Children's clothes in wonderful condition and a few toys.

Frugal Tip of the day: Use a site such as Craigslist to sell your stuff. Don't try to sell it in one day!


In full bloom

Spring is in full bloom around here. I love roses and have three rose bushes. I have this wonderfull purple heirloom rose bush that I love. It smells so wonderful. The scent wafts into my house when I have the windows open. So, when buying a rose bush I spend $15.99. This is a large price, but when you buy roses in the store you spend at least that. Let's take a look at the photo. There are about 50 buds on this plant. I think that is well over my money's worth. I also cut some an placed in a vase on my kitchen table. I am not much of a flower arranger, but I love to have fresh cut flowers. I just don't like paying for them in the store. That is why I have a garden of beautiful flowers I can cut and bring into the house.

Lesson for today: You don't have to go broke when wanting to have lovely items in your house.



Today it is supposed to be in the mid 80's, seems like a great day to make some bbq ribs. This is my husband's specialty. He loves to cook on the outside grills. Today, however it will be the smoker that prevails. To go with these ribs, I am making a homemade bbq sauce and also homemade potato salad. Yes, the potato salad may be a recipe that ends up going to the fair. The basic version is good, but I need to make some adjustments to it. I will give you my basic version. If you like old fashioned creamy potato salad, you will love this.

Old Fashioned Potato Salad

1 pickle chopped
1 tbsp pickle juice
3/4 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tsp. mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
Paprika for color
3 eggs hard boiled and chopped
3 lbs potatoes boiled and skins removed, chopped in bite sized pieces

mix together pickle, juice, mayo, sour cream, mustard, and cider vinegar in a large bowl. Add onion, celery, egg, and potatoes. Mix well and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.



UH OH!!!! The Iowa State Fair is only a few weeks away. I sent in my entry form this morning. I can't wait for the fair. It is my two weeks of baking and cooking to validate my inner love for the culinary world. I will try to post pictures of my endeavors. I also will be entering pies. This is my specialty. I wasn't sure it would work out in my schedule this year, but it did. Where there's a will there's a way. The first recipe I will be trying is for a french silk pie. I need to find my recipe from last year and try to tweak it a bit. That is my project for today.


Rainy Spring Day

Oh what to do on a rainy spring day? Today is Wednesday so that would be my sewing day. I am cleaning out my closet and with all the t-shirts I find, I am making shorts for my children using a very helpful tutorial from sewlil They look so cute. My daughter will love some of these to wear to dance lessons. There is nothing like being frugal!!!


Iowa State Fair

Oh..You may be saying what is with this title, but for the last five years I have entered the pie contest at the Iowa State Fair. I have won a handful of ribbons. This has given me soo much encouragement in my recipes and cooking efforts. This year will be different. I am furthering my education this year to advance my career. This means that on the day of pie judging, I will be taking a final for my summer class. I am still going to try and enter a pie or two, but I don't think that I will be entering 10 pies as I did last year.

I do think though that I may enter some different contests this year. It is time to broaden my horizon's as I say. So, here it is. The next few months of my blog will be devoted to the homemade way of life. I am on a quest to make wonderful food that will be proud to stand at the Iowa State Fair.


Spring Sewing Project

I took a little hiatus from cooking last week to make a project for my daughter. I had this wonderful pink sparkly fabric that was screaming to make a dress. So I did it. Here is the picture and the best part was it didn't cost me anything. I had all the supplies on hand.


My menu for this week is:

Monday: Cheeseburger Pie
Tuesday: Leftovers or pork chops on the grill
Wednesday: Beef enchiladas
Thursday: Lemon Chicken on the grill
Friday: Pizza--Greek grilled Pizza

Very simple. I am planning on using only staples I have on hand for these dishes this week.


Ham Casserole

I have found a winner in my house. We are trying to find new ways to use up our Easter Ham. I dug this recipe out of my box and the kids love it!

Ham Casserole

8 oz. noodles, cooked
8 oz. cooked ham, diced
1 med. onion, chopped
8 oz. sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cans of green beans, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredinets together. Place in a greased casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes.

Frugal Leftovers

I have been racking my brain over the last few days to use up my ham from Easter. I have come up with using it to make a pineapple ham pizza tonight. Will post recipe later today!


Menu Plan Monday

Monday Taco Bar
Tuesday Breakfast for dinner---Pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, potato
Wednesday Beef Pot Roast with carmelized onions This is made in crockpot
Thursday Beef Pot Pie Uses leftover beef pot roast
Friday Clean out Refrig night.


Bavarian Beef Stew

This is a recipe I made to use up some Veggies I had at home. It was based off a recipe found in Woman's Day.

1 lb beef stew meat
1/2 lb carrots sliced
1 onion sliced
2 cups cabbage sliced
2 cups water
1 can tomato paste
1 envelope onion mushroom soup
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp caraway seed
1 cup sour cream
Serve with Egg noodles

mix all ingredients except sour cream in crock pot. Cover and cook on low until tender. Turn off cooker and stir in sour cream. Serve over noodles

This was a mix between stroganoff and a sauerbraten. YUM!