Work In Progress Wednesday

All over the blogoshphere, Bloggers host WIP Weds. Today I am taking a crack at it, but with a slightly different approach.

It is amazing how only 3 days in to this challenge, I am looking at things completely differently. I am finding double and triple purposes for everything. (As a side note, I can’t tell you how many times my van almost pulled into Dunkins for a Pumpkin Spice!)

Last night I made this amazing Chicken noodle soup. It was from the Cooking Light Magazine.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

This morning I was running errands, but when I came home I dove right into making the Strawberry Jam – Super simple – 3 ingredients – Sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and strawberries.

First, Zest the lemon, and squeeze the juice out of the lemon into a saucepan. Add the sugar and heat over low for 10 minutes. At first it will look like this, and you will wonder where you went wrong:

Messy lumpy mix

Messy lumpy mix

 

But then after you keep heating it, and checking it because you are sure it is wrong, then trying to decide if you need to add more lemon juice, all of a sudden it becomes this fabulous liquid…

Fabulous Liquid!

Fabulous Liquid!

While this magical transformation was occurring, I was sorting through a huge thing of strawberries – tossing out probably 1/4 of them – and then hulling and chopping them. At that point, I tossed them (very carefully, the sugar is HOT!) into the sauce pan.

Gorgeous strawberries

Gorgeous strawberries

After cooking them for 20 minutes, they were at a low boil and looking B-E-A-U-TIFUL!

Strawberries Ready for the Jar

Strawberries Ready for the Jar

And Voila – 35 minutes from start to finish!

YUM

YUM

 

Now… for all you canning fanatics… I know all about food safety. These are both going right into the fridge and will be consumed this week, one jar here and one jar at moms. Otherwise, I would have boiled the jars, filled them to the top, checked for the proper headspace, finished with a hot bath, yadda yadda yadda.

*NOTE: If you are planning on making jam for preserving – or any other canning, please be sure to follow proper canning techniques – a great resource is Ball Canning.*

I think this weekend I am going to try my hand at making homemade Brioche Bread.

And… Just in case you want to keep track of our cashless month – today is day #3, and I have spent NO MONEY! Tomorrow I have to go to Shaws and will pick up some basics, but am hoping to keep it under $30.

Are you joining me here? Are you up for the challenge? Let me know how you are doing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a Homemade Tuesday!

Can I just tell you, as soon as you decide you aren’t going to spend any money – THAT? Is when the you know what hits the fan. Promptly after making our decision, my front tooth broke! So off to the dentist to get it fixed. $90 later, I was a whole woman again.

For dinner tonight I was going to make homemade lemon pepper chicken tenders to go on a caesar salad and some left over homemade bread from yesterday. But, I got a message from my hubby telling me how sick he was feeling (him and half the country), and then almost as soon as I got that, my mom called and told me about the fabulous chicken noodle soup she made from the magazine Cooking Light.  Voila – chicken noodle soup it is! I Went through my cupboards and I have all of the ingredients, except for the celery. I am hoping *hint, hint* that my mama will bring me a couple of pieces of her celery. If not, it will be fine without. I got the recipe from mom, and have all of my ingredients out and ready to go:

Chicken Noodle Soup Ingredients and Recipe

Chicken Noodle Soup Ingredients and Recipe

I think the best part of this challenge we are doing is that I am finally being forced to cook. For those who have been following me here, you know how much I love to cook. The problem has been that it is so much easier to pay a little extra and buy premade. Not this month. This month we are only making what we have in the house. The other thing I have noticed here right at the beginning, is that I am not wanting anything to go to waste.

This past week, I was able to get a large container of strawberries greatly reduced because they were older. We have eaten some and they are incredible. This afternoon I was looking at them thinking how sad it was that they were going to turn bad before we could use them. This afternoon Barefoot Contessa made strawberry jam on her show and a lightbulb went on! I am sooo making some strawberry jam tonight (or tomorrow morning depending on how energetic I feel later. I have all the ingredients! The Barefoot Contessa also made homemade Brioche – I may have to make that, too!

Simple Strawberry Jam Ingredients

Simple Strawberry Jam Ingredients

I looked around at my other fruits, and saw that my bananas are a little brown. So tonight I am going to put chopped strawberries and a half banana sliced up into baggies to freeze. I also notice I have some vanilla yogurt that only has a few days left on it – I will flash freeze that in coin sized blops and then add them to the baggies. Instant smoothies for mornings! I guess this challenge is turning into far more than I had initially planned. It is fast becoming a zero waste month.

Are you joining me in my challenge? If you are, I would love to hear from you, and how you are doing!

 

Minor Monday Musings…

OK, maybe not minor. Maybe major.

Tell me… If you had to go a month without spending any money, could you? After quite a few months of money being really tight, and following a family meeting, we have decided to try just that. There are, of course, exception – we will need milk, juice, fresh veggies and meats, and gas for the car. Our goal in doing this is to have some spending money for our upcoming cruise with our family and my in-laws.

So, how much could you save if you didn’t spend any money for an entire month? Enough to pay off a chunk of your bills from Christmas? We didn’t charge anything this year, but if you did, wouldn’t it feel good to pay it off in a month? Enough to make a double car payment? Enough to pay for summer camp for your kids? When you really sit back and think about it, how nice would it feel to have that big chunk of cash four weeks from now!

The ground rules we have set out for ourselves are these:

  • No eating out
  • No Dunkins! *gasp***
  • No new yarn
  • No groceries except for perishables that are absolutely necessary
  • No shopping
  • No trips to anywhere unless they are preplanned and work/dr/kid related

There are other rules, but they are mostly common sense. Every penny we spend this month needs to have a specific name and purpose, or it is money wasted.

Anyone else think they could benefit from a month of unwasted money? Are you up for the challenge? Join me!

We will be “making due” for meals – making whatever we can from the stores in our cupboards. If you had no other source of funds, how long could you eat off of what is on your shelves? I am betting that here in the Ort Fam Home we can eat pretty well for at least a month (again, with the exception of allowing purchases of fresh produce, milk, etc).

Tonight’s dinner was pasta, sauce, parm cheese, and a loaf of homemade italian seasoned bread, all made from pantry items.

As of right this moment, The Ort Fam Clan is dollar free – are you in?

Technology and me? NOT BFF’s….

Here’s the thing y’all, to blog, you really need a computer, or laptop, or even a cell phone… any one of these things will suffice. And all of mine decided to die or malfunction. At. The. Same. Time. yuppers. a blogger with no means to blog. I was like a raft lost adrift at sea. Like a knitter with yarn but no needles. A quilter with no thread. A baker with no flour. Well, you get the picture. But now? I have my laptop back, and my world is right again. Sorry for the interruption.

Where did I leave you? OH! The Biggest Loser!!! It has been going well – in two weeks, I lost 7.5 pounds, that’s 4% of my bodyweight (and yes, I realize that you math wizards will quickly deduce that I started this venture at 182 pounds. No biggy, I am on my way DOWN, so it’s all good).  I have made many attempts in the past to get myself motivated to get healthy. This time I think I have found it – money! lol… seriously, though, something has clicked, and I am truly enjoying my daily workouts.

I have a couple more secret plans up my sleeve for the spring (and for now to get ready for spring), but I feel I should probably share them with the hubbs before I tell you all. And something tells me you guys will be far more excited than he will be. But we’ll see.

Anywhoooo… on a completely different subject… you know how I love couponing? well, I think I had my most rewarding haul this week. (I am not saying saved the highest %, because I have definitely saved more). I spent purchased $244 of groceries, and only spent $100. Wanna see what I got? I had to put it into 2 pictures…

DSCN7609

Last weekend was a busy one for me. MarcyMade had 2 big events to bake for. One was for a young lady’s 13th birthday. She had a masquerade ball theme. Lots of kids. Dancing. And purple cake! And MANY yummy cupcakes! YUM!

Scrolled Purple Cake

Scrolled Purple Cake

Lovely Cuppies

Lovely Cuppies

And with that, I bid you a sweet rest of your day!

***It’s good to be back on-line!***

 

 

The Biggest Loser

Speaking of fresh new starts… I love The Biggest Loser! I haven’t missed an episode since day 1 of the first season! I love the thought of all of those people who are given  second chance at life. I love the thought of all of us watching, and internalizing even the smallest tip which can help us become healthier. I love the fact that these people, who come on the show thinking they are nothing, leave being an inspiration to so many thousands of people.

This year, a group of friends I have never met in person and I will be having our own “biggest loser” Between now and March 31, whoever loses the highest percentage of weight will win! We are all putting in $20 – whoever loses the most gets the whole pot – I think it’s up to $200. That money is MINE! I am so motivated! Well, anyways, we are all signed up on this site called www.myfitnesspal.com This place is awesome! I log in my exercise, and everything I eat, I tell it how much I want to lose, and it calculates my calories I need to eat and burn. I am rocking the calorie intake! Anyways, I have a great crock pot chicken recipe to share with you all (not the crock pot rotissere, although that was good, too).  But I have no pictures at all, whatsoever! So, I will come back tomorrow with some pictures and the recipe. IT was good! I will give you the rotissere recipe, too.

All of this to say – I had been planning on doing a knit marathon today, but chose to clean and to recoup my VERY tired and sore muscles. My mama came over and cleaned out my fridge for me! You have gotta love a mama that will come over and clean her 40-year-old daughters fridge!

OK, I am exhausted, I m off to bed early to read and rest so that tomorrow I can work out some more and kick these young kids’ butts at losing weight (did I mention that the majority were in their upper 20’s/lower 30’s? ya. I told them I should get a percent handicap due to my advanced age. lol… they didn’t think so!

 

Have a great night!

 

Week Two of New Beginnings

Today is the start of a brand new week! Which means time to reflect on last week, and set new goals for this week. I did pretty well last week. I made 2 healthy dinners, and tried out one new lunch recipe for the kids – Pictured below is the healthy version of the kids’ favorite Pizza Lunchable:

 

Pizza Lunchable

Pizza Lunchable

I used a Whole Grain Sandwich thin, which splits in half and make 2 full “pizzas”.  A baggy of shredded mozzarella, organic pizza sauce and pepperoni slices. To add a little something extra, I put in a pickle and for dessert, a fiber one granola bar. The kids loved them. And yes, they eat them cold.

Back to last weeks’ goals – I made it to the gym twice. I didn’t get very far sorting my knitting. My hubby was away, as were the kids, and with the empty house, I spent the last 4 days watching shows everyone else hates on Netflix while knitting and puttering around the house. I am really ok with that, as I made it a conscious choice, rather than just not getting to it.

I made great progress on 3 projects. These will be my main projects until they are finished.

1) My hunny’s Nordic-Style Sweater – I finished the last 17″ on the back, and have the front done all the way up to the split for the zipper. I also cast on and worked the ribbing for the sleeves while I was on the bike at the gym this morning.

Kev's Nordic-Style Sweater

Kev’s Nordic-Style Sweater

2) The Un-Fat Sweater: You may remember this beauty from about a year ago. She is called the un-fat sweater because I bought her with Christmas money as a reward for working so hard on my weight loss and getting fit goals. I stopped working on it because I stopped working out. I am back on the fit-train now (as of last week), and so I am working on her again. She is made of the most delicious Malibrigo you have ever felt!

The Un-Fat Sweater

The Un-Fat Sweater

3) The Stellar Socks: Of course, I can’t go without a pair of socks to work on – being that this is the year of the socks for me. Kevin bought me sock yarn for Christmas. HE went to my local yarn shop and picked it out all by himself, with no prompting from me what so ever! I didn’t even ask for yarn! He picked out this perfect sock yarn, that as I knit becomes a perfect sock for wearing with jeans and by brown leather clogs. The man did good!

The Stellar Socks

The Stellar Socks

 

Alrighty – this week? My goals are:

  • Continue to make better food choices
  • Get to Storms Fitness (my local gym) 3-4 times this week.
  • Locate and pull out all of my yarn and yarn-related items
  • Keep blogging!

Dinner tonight is a Rotiserrie style chicken in the crock pot – It is a brand new recipe I found online. If it comes out yummy, I will share it with you.

Crock Pot Chicken

Crock Pot Chicken

 

Here’s to a healthy  and productive January

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the Cat’s Away…

.. The Wife will play!

OK… maybe not play, but she will knit, watch Mermaid (remember that movie with Cher?), have the fire-place blazing hot, and eat left overs in front of the fridge without even heating them up! And Kevin’s only been gone for literally 12 hours! I have ALL WEEKEND! I better start pacing myself.

Now, I know I promised pictures of my other finished items, but they are NOT being delivered (as I thought they would be) this weekend. So, you will all have to wait until Monday.

I made it to the gym today! Well, I worked there for 3 hours, and while I was there I biked, and did  few weights – just keepin’ it real. My favorite thing to do? Set up the bike to go for 45 minutes on the “weight loss” program, put a movie on the little tv in front of the bike and my knitting up on the handles. Then, I sit, watch my movie and knit. It is truly the ONLY way for me to get through the cardio portion of my workout. What tricks do you use to get you through?

Alright… I am off… because as I may have mentioned: my husband is out of town for the weekend, and my kids are all elsewhere! So, it’s just me! alone! with the remote, a fire, and  bag of unfinished knitting projects!

Talk to y’all soon!

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