menu plan monday: 09|26 to 10|02

Monday, September 26, 2011 0 comments
Menu-planning makes it easy to use up what is in the freezer and/or pantry and that is the plan for this week. There are plenty of potatoes, carrots, grains, pasta, meat, and canned good (like tomatoes and beans) and I'm hoping to not have to pick up anything other than possibly milk.

Mondays are for Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie and it's a great place to pick up new recipes and  ideas. This is what we're having this week.

Monday: Unstuffed Cabbage, mashed potatoes, Green Peas with Onion and Garlic
Tuesday: Zucchini, Black Bean and Rice Skillet with spinach and shredded chicken, green salad
Wednesday: Sweet Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin, Savory Herb Rice, roasted brussels sprouts (or this recipe), corn
Thursday: tortellini with pasta sauce
Friday: Broccoli Barley Soup (leftover barley), Cheesy Savoury Monkey Bread
Saturday: spaghetti with Yummy Marinara Sauce, garlic toast
Sunday: Impossibly Easy Roasted Pepper and Feta Pie, veggies to be determined

What's on YOUR menu?

got smartphone?

Friday, September 23, 2011 0 comments
My last contract with my cell phone provider expired at the beginning of this month and I decided it was time to upgrade my phone as well. Previous to the contract expiring, I hadn't planned to upgrade to a smartphone seeing as all I did with my phone was talk and text. Somehow, in the days leading up to the end of the contract, I changed my mind. I was moving from an old Sony Ericsson, with which I had no problems, so I decided to stay with Sony. I came home with an Xperia Arc. I know, welcome to the 21st century.

So far, so good and I've been busy plugging it full of apps. I went app crazy in the first couple of days but a couple of weeks later sat down and weeded through them, deleting nearly half of them. I'm sure I still have some deleting to do but as it is now, my phone is populated only with apps that I use regularly or that will be used in the right time and place. Some are Android-specific and some work with the iPhone as well. Some are fun, some are essential, and some are just very, very handy.

In the category of "Fun", I'm loving the Paper Camera app, which can transform photos from plain with painting and cartoon effects. There is a sketch effect, comic book, half tone, and several more. It turned this picture

into this

With a bit more tweaking (maybe softer lines), I'd like to print it out and frame it. Paper Camera is listed on some websites as costing up to $2, however it appears in the Market for free.

Other fun apps include SoundHound, a music recognition app; Goodreads; Catch Notes; and Google Sky Map.

In the budgeting/money-spending category, I'm loving the YNAB app to take my budget program out and about with me; Grocery King to help track prices and create lists for multiple stores; and Christmas Gift Planner, a simple little program which keeps track of money budgeted and spent per giftee as well as the overall total spent.

I'm using Jorte for a calendar and loving it as well. It syncs beautifully with both my Google calendar and my boyfriend's so I'm always aware of appointments and important dates no matter where the information has been entered. There are several different calander view options as well. And for those To Do lists, I'm using Do It (Tomorrow), a simple program with two lists - Today and Tomorrow. A simple press of the screen and tasks for today are moved to tomorrow's list; when tomorrow rolls around the next morning, those put-off tasks are back on the Today list.

I'm constantly finding new apps to love. Some replace my existing ones and some fit right in with those I already have. I'm just waiting for a Pinterest app for Android. When that happens, I'll be a happy girl

menu plan monday: 09|19 to 09|25

Monday, September 19, 2011 0 comments
In March of this year, my son and I moved in with my boyfriend and his daughter, of whom he shares 50% custody.

In May, our family grew by one as we welcomed our daughter together.

In August, we decided that it was high time we got a budget going and we turned to YNAB, a program we had both used somewhat in the past when we were still in separate houses. Having never budgeted for a family of four before (the baby needs surprisingly little as a cloth-diapered, breastfed little person), we guessed on the figures for many of the categories, Groceries being one of them. At the end of August, we were almost $200 over our budgeted figure for that category. I think it's partly that we budgeted too little but also partly that the money wasn't spent as wisely as it could have been and the dollars weren't stretched to their full potential.

September's grocery budget is the same as August's was with a few changes. There will be more couponing, more meal planning, more cooking-from-the-pantry-and-freezer self-challenges, and more cooking from scratch. There will be more price-matching among grocery stores and more shopping from the sale fliers. There will be more personal Make It Instead challenges too.

This week I am making many of our menu items from our existing pantry and freezer stock. Here's what we'll be eating until next Monday.

Thursday: roast in the slow cooker with potatoes, Garlic Mustard Green Beans, carrot sticks
Saturday: Slow Cooker Mushroom Barley Chicken with spinach, corn

If you're stumped for ideas or just want to mix up your meals a bit, head over to for Menu Plan Monday. Each week Laura links up hundreds of bloggers, each posting their own weekly meal plan and recipe links.