I am a 31 year old working mom. I have two children ages 6 & 8. I am newly remarried (two years and counting) and enjoy spending time with the hubs! Even though life is busy I try to take a little time to show what is going on in my world. This blog is mainly for daily happenings, finances and such. I have created a whole new blog at Butcher, Baker and Candlestick Maker to chronicle my creative sides. You will find recipes, cooking adventures, crafts and a whole lot of digital scrapbook layouts.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Weight Loss

Just wanted to drop a quick note. Since around Sept. when I realized how much I weighed I have tried to watch what I eat and did attempt to exercise more. I didn't do so good on the exersice issue. I mostly contribute the weight loss to the fact that we have stopped going out to eat so much. I have lost 16.5 lbs. I know about 7-8 have been in the last 5-6 weeks. I am so excited. When I stepped on the scale this morning I had to do a re-weight because I didn't believe it. It has been a few weeks since I had weighed myself. I had to go running out to tell Steve to add some veggies to my lunch and I only ate 1/2 of the pasta he sent for lunch. Now mind you that half was probably more than one serving, but I can usually eat all that he send. And when I wanted a snack.....didn't have anything at work (will bring some in) I choose a bag of peanuts instead of the wonderful donuts, danish, candy bar and other junk that is in the vending machine. Now to stay on track.....

Monday, January 28, 2008

My Awesome Husband

So last July Steve got one of those 0% credit card transfer offers, which we gladly took and transferred our other cc balances to it. Well, do to error on our part we missed the first payment (yes sad, but true) and this resulted in our interest rate jumping to 32%. Yikes and holy moly….Well we have dutifully paid the amount owed, but let me tell you it hurt. Not because of being unable to afford it, but because seeing that much money go out the window pained me because I knew that the interest amounts that we had transferred from were much lower. It felt like jumping out of the pan and into a volcano, forget the fire. Every “money blog” or article recently has talked about how now is the time to refinance…your home, your car and your credit cards. On their advice I asked Steve to call his CC and to ask for a lower rate. I have called other cards and sometimes it has taken me saying to cancel the card if I can’t have a lower rate. Steve and I figured that if we could not get a lower rate we would pay it off with the tax return and cancel the card. I just got off the phone with him and I am not sure what all took place, if he had to pull out the “we will cancel” or not, but he got us BACK TO 0% until July and then it goes to 11%. Got to love it – He is good.
My goal is to pay off all credit cards and to cancel any that has an interest rate over 13%. I am going to see if they will lower rates, but I have no issue with canceling the cards. I know our credit rating will initially take a hit, but I think it will be better in the long run.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Stories From the Past

Is it true?? You know what I am talking about, those stories that we grow up with and then wonder how much of it was true, or over the years has it grown. This is a story that I recalled and asked my mother about and here is what she said:

James age 5 yrs.

We moved to Bell Gardens in 1985 from Whittier, CA and James would have just turned 5 years and Kenney would be 6 months old at the time. James started kindergarten that September and I was still home at the time, not having started back to work yet. It was the first day of school for everyone. The first day of school is oatmeal for breakfast, a tradition handed down from my mother. Eric, Sharon and James would all be going to the same school nearby. Although the school was only a few blocks, a major highway was between home and the school. Being Kenney was so small and Sharon & Eric older and more experienced (ha!) everyone ate and was packed off to school. School would have started around 7:45-8:00 am. Around 9:00 am I heard a noise at the front door, and when I came out of the kitchen from cleaning up, there stood James. Alarmed, I asked him if he was okay. He said he was fine, that the teacher had asked everyone in class to write their names and as he didn't know how, he decided to walk home. (I am sure that she asked this to see what level of experience the children had.) I asked him if his school knew he had come home, and he replied he didn't know. I called the school and told them that James had walked home. I packed up Kenney and we took James back to school. I went to the classroom and spoke with the teacher. The teacher indicated that James was in the classroom and I explained that no, he had walked home and I was bringing him back. The teacher wasn't even aware that James was missing.

**What is funny is this is exactly how I remember the story going....yikes, I would not have liked to have been that teacher. Of course mind you this was 25 years ago, but had it been recently....heaven help the school had the media gotten a hold of it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Month End Report soon to come

The debt reduction percentage - includes payments that were made to come out of this Friday's paycheck....when it has cleared the bank I will post our monthly payoff total....

Kitchen Tips Tuesday

Okay....so even though it is not a backward day at Tammy's Kitchen tip...I thought I would still ask a question. I have what I thought was a zester, but when I used it this past weekend I could not get the zest off of it. I don't have a picture of it, but it kind of looks like the holes on the top left of this grater I found on-line.
So my questions are....Is that a zester? How can I get the zest off? Please help.
For Kitchen Tip go to TammysRecipes.com

Monday, January 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday/And Follow-up

Well things didn't go according to plan last week. I went to a discount grocery store to do my shopping. (I am hoping to take the reciepts from both stores to do a comparison on the pricing to make sure that I am acually saving money) They were out of brown gravy and there chese was more expensive than Walmart's so I decided to go by Walmart later in the day....well that never happened so I did not have the ingredients to make a few of the items on my menu from last week. (We have decided to shop only one day a week to prevent us from overspending, it has been working so far) We had the missionaries over for dinner on Saturday so we ended up roasting a leg of lamb, which we had been given, in our rotisserie. We served yummy greek potatoes, and greek green beans which didn't turn out so well. Along with Fresh baked bread. For dessert we had Luscious Cream Puff which were excellent.
For this week we have:
(from last week)
Taco Bake
Red Beans and Rice
Sheppards Pie
Lamb Gyros - from left overs
Pancakes, Bacon, Eggs
Chicken Pot Pie
Emilia and I had fun "taping" segments of her making Orange-Wheat Scones....as soon as I can edit the video clips I will post them. She is so cute in her pj's, with her apron and her kool-aid mustashe. I was origionally just going to post pictures of us making them together, but she wanted to do a cooking show....and since I was still in my pj...I graciously let her be the Star!!
For more Menu Ideas pleas go here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Trip to California

Well this Summer we are flying all the way from the East to the West Coast. We will be going up to Greenesboro, NC which is about 4 hrs away to fly out to Burbank, CA. I am loving skybus.com, I like the fact that if you get there soon enough that you can get a really cheap seat. I am talking $150 each to fly cross-country. That is nothing to sneeze at. The only issue I am having is that they are taking so long to switch over to June Calendar so I can purchase our tickets. I am hoping that they are not discontinuing the flight between the to cities - that would be the pits. If they don't I might be able to fly my family of four for under $700 buckaroos. While out there we have talked about going camping, to Medieval Times among other things. I am so excited. I am hoping that we can get together with some friends of ours that are out on the West Coast. I emailed my mom 14 times yesterday talking back and forth about the trip. I am too excited to see her. I think the last time we saw each other was two March's ago when she was out here for my wedding. Emilia is excited to see her cousin who has a horse. She thinks that is the bomb!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WFMW Master Baking Mix

It is Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks In My Dryer. My tip this week is how to make your own homemade Bisquick. I found it somewhere online, and have not been able to find it again. It is great. You can make pancakes, waffles, bisquits, muffins, cornbread, cakes, cookies.....almost anything that you can make with bisquick. If anyone is interested in the recipes you can make I would be more than happy to post them....just give me a shout.

Master Baking Mix

9 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/3 c baking powder

1 tbs salt

2 tsp cream of tarter

4 tbs granulated sugar

2 1/2 c nonfat dry milk

2 c shortening (shelf stable)

Sift together the dry ingredients, except milk, together three times. Add dry milk. Mix well. Cut in shortening with pastry blender or two knives until mixture looks like cornmeal. Store in covered container at room temperature.

Well, this is what works for me. I am on my second batch and I am loving the savings from not buying the Bisquick. For more ideas go here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday - Allrecipes

I just love allrecipes.com. It is such a wonderful site. It has a multitude of recipes, but I love that you can read reviews and see what adjustment to make off of the original recipe. One of the key features I like is the ingredient search that it has. If you have a few items on hand but you don't know what to make with them, just type them in, hit search and viola you have recipes to make. For instance my late mil (passed away a few months ago) was a wonderful woman. One of the funny things about her was that she would send us home from a visit (she's in Ohio, we live in SC) with food. I'm talking cans of food, bags of rice and general pantry items. I have a feeling that if we had lived any closer we would have been sent home with perishables too. Well, summer of 06 we went for a visit and she sent home 4 cans of white beans. I have no clue what to do with them, I don't use that particular bean in my cooking. So, if they are still good here are a few recipes that allrecipes.com suggests:

Tropical Quake Shake (okay not too sure about a bean/fruit shake, but interesting nonetheless)

White Bean Spread With Garlic & Rosemary (looks kind-of like a hummus)

But say I had a few other ingredients on hand....say chicken and onions. Then I just add those in the ingredients search (it has 4 fields for what you do want, and even has 4 field for things you don't want. You can exclude ingredients like: mushrooms if you don't like it)

So with white beans, chicken and onions in things I do want and mushrooms in the things I do here is what I came up with.

Caldo Gallega (a yummy looking Puerto Rican soup).

For more Kitchen tip go to TammysRecipes.com

Monday, January 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

It in Menu Plan Monday over on Organizing Junkie once again. We have discovered that a general monthly menu is nice to have all the ingredients for, but we are planning week to week what we want. This week Steve saw alot of recipes that he wants to try in Kraft's recipe magazine that they send out. I want to try all but one. A broccoli and cheese soup (made with Velveeta) Yuck! Not that I have anything against Velveeta, but eating a big bowl of it, in addition to the broccoli makes me want to gag.

Here are the meals that we will be having. In no particular order

Baked Potato Soup

Taco Bake

Red Beans and Rice

Sheppard's Pie

Waffles, Bacon, Eggs.

I am continuing with the breakfast, a soup and a bean heavy dish once a week. I am hoping that this will help cut our food budget. Although, next week I am going straight to my pantry and seeing what I can make out of that and our chest freezer. I know we have plenty to cook with needing only minor ingredients if we just did some planning.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Baking Weekend/Girls Weekend

Well this weekend it will just be us girls, Steve is working and Nicholas is with Margaret. We are going to do alot of baking. I am hoping to try out some new recipes. Tammy has a great site where she post recipes. I am most interested in trying her Apple Bread. Her husband has a great love for cheesecakes, so I am excited to try a few of those as well. I think I will also try to make some Breakfast Danish's.
Along with all that baking I am going to be making up some meals for our freezer. It's all well and good to have a menu, but we forgot about looking ahead. We came home and were supposed to have pinto beans and cornbread the other night, but kind of forgot to soak them. Well I soaked them all day yesterday and put them in the crockpot. Steve and I also put all the ingredients in the bread machine and set the timer to have the bread done at 6:00 pm. The only thing I realized is that the water (which according to the recipe) was put in at 110 degrees, however when it starts to make the bread at 3:00 this afternoon it will have cooled to room temp. So I am curious to see if the bread turns out or not. If not, I will whip up a batch of homemade cornbread. I am also going to make the shopping list tonight and take it with me when we leave for Emilia's basketball game tomorrow. We will get the shopping done after the game.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Coolest Christmas Gift Ever ......cont.

Well I just had to leave you hanging didn't I. But the answer that everyone wants to know is a..... Video Camera. I immediatley started filming on Christmas Day. The cooking, the kids playing with the karaoke. I also have had fun shooting little clips of the kids at basketball practice and their first game. I am going to keep filming little clips and I plan on doing a tour of our house. After a while I am going to transfer to a DVD do some editing and will post some short clips of what goes on in the Byrum household. I got alot of other cool gifts.... a great book from my parents which I have read and enjoyed even if it made me bawl like a baby. I got earrings, lotion and body wash, camping dishes, gift cards.....and more. Why is it so hard to remember all the things and from whom you got it from. I think next year, I am going to record it so that the kids can actually send out thank you notes.

This also was the year of the poop. Yep I said it, you heard it poop. From my mother Nicholas got a toy that poops out candy. Vicki Evans gave Emilia the new Barbie with the dog that you feed it it's food and it come out the other end as poop. It also has a poop scooper and garbage bin. At least it is not candy that you eat. Emilia got a Disney vanity which she just loves to death. She will sit in a chair and brush her hair....it is quite cute.


Ok, so I got to brag a little bit. When I changed templates to this Ocean background my widgets on the right column were cut off so I had to move them on to the top of my postings. Well through trial and error I was able to go into the html code on the template and mess around with it until it was wide enough to accept the widgets….how cool is that. I am so proud of myself. I love to learn new things and to play around with them until they are just so. Yipee!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday.

Over at Rock in My Dryer, Shannon has asked us to post questions, instead of tips. So here is my question: Has anyone tried those Dry clean at home kit. My husband wears a suit to work everyday. We are trying to become a more frugal household and it would be great to cut out the drycleaning cost. So, do those kits work? Is there a homemade solutions to drycleaning.

Also, his t-shirts keep getting this dingy yellow look to them.....how can we get them to stay white? None of our other laundry does this.

Random things about me.

My friend Suzanne tagged me for a list of Random things about me. Well she came up with 50....we will see if I can get anywhere close.

1. I have 8 bro & sis
2. Most of the people in my family are on their 2nd marriage. (We figure we subconsiously have to have a trial run to get it right)
3. I need glasses (but not bad enough to spend the money)
4. I named my daughter after my step-father and she ended up being born two weeks early on the same day and date as him.
5. When I was growing up I wanted 12 kids.
6. I like to blog, but I love to read blogs.
7. I have a hard time making friends, we haven't had another couple to hang out with since S&J left Augusta.
8. I am trying to convice my mom and dad to move to Augusta.
9. And I want them to actually Live with me.
10. Around 15 years old I mooned another car.
11. I am a few classes away from a two-year degree.
12. I want to become fluent in Spanish.
13. I got into trouble for sneaking out and macking on the boy next door.
14. I love to sing.
15. I get stage-fright. (major)
16. Growing up I thought I wanted a tatoo, until I discovered my fear of needles.
17. My babysitter let me have a puff of her cigarette when I was seven.
18. She got into trouble.
19. She egged and mustard my parents card.
20. The police once literally checked out my rear-end. (A neighbor wrongly accused my parents of abuse)
21. I can have a really hard time finding a good pair of shoes.
22. I have the best pair of jeans I have ever owned.
23. I want to wear calf-lengh boots, but my calfs are too big.
24. I obsessively, secretly dream of winning the lotto, or some amount of cash.
25. I am scared of dying.
26. We are going to DisneyWorld for the first time in Summer '09
27. In high-school I played Jack-in-the beanstalk's mom in a musical.
28. I love to read.
29. I am currently reading Junie B Jones with my daughter.
30. I am trying to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year.
31. I have only made it to 1Nephi Ch5.
32. I took a Greyhound bus from No. Calif down to LA and across the county to Augusta GA.
33. I was 21 but my mom still packed me a goodie bag with snacks, coloring book and crayons.
34. They came in handy with a screaming child on the bus.
35. Thanks Mom!
36. I like the new "Cereal Straws"
37. My favorite soup is "Baked Potato"
38. I wish I knew how to play the piano.
39. I love to cook or bake.
40. I hate to clean up.
41. I used to be a hard sleeper.
42. Now I have to wear ear plugs to be able to sleep.
43. I have a brother and a nephew named Eric.
44. I have two brothers named James. (Combined Marriage, 1 from each)
45. My name was almost Sharon Aaron.
46. I have a recurring dream/nightmare that all of my teeth are falling out. (at the same time)
47. I hate to fly.
48. I want to go to Medieval Times Restaurant when we are in LA in June.
49. The Atlantic Ocean is way warmer than the Pacific.
50. One more...... In June I will have been in GA for a whole decade. Scary.

Well I made it. Never thought I would. I am going to tag Lauren and Erika

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday

It is Kitchen Tip Tuesday once again. The kitchen tip I have is for freezer meals. I have long been interested in freezing meals since both Steve and I work full time. I like to cook freezer meals. Some are all the way cooked or need to be cooked, they are just packaged together. One easy way to be able to do this and not have your pans in the freezer is to put it into silicone pans.

Freeze the meal and you can "peel" the pan right off of it. Then you can put into a gallon sized ziploc. Just be sure to get as much air out as possible. You can then take it out of the freezer - I recommend the morning of the day before you want to eat it. Place it into the pan and defrost in the freezer.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Spending Challenge Week #1 Update

So instead of doing a daily blog about how we are doing I am going to do a weekly update.

So how did we do?

MENU - we were invited out on Tuesday for a New Year's dinner - so that saved us money and we didn't have to cook - yeah! Wednesday we had the missionaries over for dinner and we had the breakfast dinner with an addition of cinamon rolls left over from Christmas. Thursday we had to change plans because I could not find split peas. I asked a employee at the Walmart and I am not sure if she knew what I was talking about and I couldn't find any other employees near by. We will have to try again another day. And I forgot to soak the beans for Friday so we ended up eating leftover waffles and pancakes from the freezer. So we did really good.

MONEY - Steve forgot about it and bought a coke....I reminded him that our agreement was not to spend any money....that it should cost him his $50 that he was "earning" for the two week period, he sounded so disappointed that I let him slide. A friend of ours offered us his old couch and we have agreed to buy it for $50. We deceided it was worth not getting the $50 we were "earning" for the two week period to get it. And after 29 years a co-worker is leaving at my work so we taking her out to lunch. Overall not too bad.

Menu Plan Monday

So here is the menu plan for this week:

Monday: Sandwiches, Chips (Basketball practice)

Tueday: Dinner at a Friend's house

Wenesday: Waffles, Sausage, Eggs

Thursday: Soup and Grilled Cheese

Friday: Red Beans and Rice, Cornbread

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Pot Roast, Carrots, Potatoes, Rolls
For more menu Ideas go here.

Friday, January 4, 2008

2008 Spending Challenge

I did forget about one thing that helps us keep the budget straight. I use a live checkbook that I created in Excell. My husband is really bad about keeping receipts and I am bad about writing things down at the store so I have found that this really works for me. Here is a picture of what it looks like.

It is kind of hard to see, but it works just like a real checkbook, enter expenditures and deposits. I have bill listed on the right that I check off as they clear the bank. And the best part is that I don't have to worry that I added or subtracted wrong. I have a worksheet for each month and I can plan what week to pay what bill.

2008 Budget Challenge

Crystal over at Money Saving Mom has posted a Challenge to get into Financial Shape for 2008. She first asks us to post our budget. The following is what I budget for monthly; however alot of times the bills come in a little less.

Monthly Household Bills
Tithing 10% gross
ATT 80
Cable/Internet 60
Power 170
Child Support 210
Child Care 180
Water 60
Garbage 20
Auto Insurance 100
House Insurance 40
Mortgage 625
Car Payment 310
Scholastics 20
Food/Gas 400

Total: $2,275

Credit Card Payments
CitiBank 75
Geico 15
Visa 15
Wamu 28
Nelnet 50 (Student Loan)
Discover 15
Capital One 15
Mastercard 27

Total: $240

While we do have eight active CC debt (Yikes) Most of them are only a few hundred dollars. And the bottom two are at 0%. We are currently snowballing on the Citibank because this has the highest interest rate. After that we will knock out some of the other cards. Any extra money is going to our CC debt and within 4-5 months I expect to only owe on two cards.

Some major steps we are taking is a two month spending freeze on anything not necessary. We are also looking to trade in our vehicle for another that would cut our payments in half. We foolishly got a vehicle that was too expensive and more that I wanted for monthly payments. We can afford it - but it is more than I wanted to. We told the salesman what price range we were looking at - he showed us a van that he was sure was in that price range. We liked it alot and said ok. When the papers were drawn up it was a few thousand more than he told us. Because we wanted it so badly we agreed and walked out. It only took a few weeks for me to kick myself in the hiney. I will not be fooled again. (I hope)

We are hoping to get things set to where one day I might be able to stay home. I keep working out plans but the main thing that kills it is that we would lose the insurance that I have through my work and my husbands workplace it too outragous to even consider. Hopefully an option will present itself when the time is right.

Coolest Christmas Gift Ever

So this year I kept bugging Steve for what he wanted for Christmas. I kept telling him that if he didn't tell me what he wanted that he was going to get nothing. I told him that all I wanted was a nice set of pajamas. I needed some warmer ones. Well I finally gave up on him telling me so I got him a nice short sleeved button up shirt and a kitchen timer. (And it doesn't even work...we have to see if new batteries will help) Anywho... a few weeks before Christmas I caught a pretty bad cold so Steve gave me my pajamas early. They were nice flannel pjs. White with lt blue and pink snowflakes and I think dots on them. They were so GOOD. It warmed me up. So it gets to Christmas Eve and Steve is in the kitchen wrapping my presents while I am being a good little girl and not peeking and keeping the kids entertained in the living room. And out comes one package, then two, then three, then four, then five. Yikes I was thinking especially since two were oddly shaped. One kind of resembled the sports ball in a box. And one was a square package about two feet long. All I could think was what the heck did he buy? Then this voice came from the kitchen..."Do you want one of your gift now? I can't wrap it." Well what in the world?? Sure I said. I am not shy about getting gifts. He comes around the corner with a blue robe, make that a fabulously soft robe. He said he didn't know how to wrap the robe. Personally, I think he was just tired of wrapping, besides the fact that he admits to being a bad wrapper.

Well Christmas Eve came and I opened pajamas #2, Christmas day and I opened pajamas #3, boy am I set on pajamas now. The next gift I as I was opening I first thought was a lunch bag, but then I realized it was a camera bag. Yes! I have needed a camera bag for quite a while. The next one was....................

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Already messed up on the "no spending"

Only three days into our personal challenge and we spent money, now of course it was for a really good thing. We have needed a couch since we first got married. I had an old run-down falling apart sofa and he had a lumpy-bumpy futon. Well we got rid of the sofa and have had to sit on the futon for almost two years. Steve's friend has a sofa that he was trying to sell for $100. He offered to let Steve have it for $50. The deal was that if we spent any money towards anything except food/gas that we would "lose" our $50 each that we were trying to earn towards our wanted items.

We agreed that it was worth giving up our $50 each to have a nice sofa. Hopefully this no spending will get easier.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Celery going bad

I am so glad that Tammy is holding a ask a question day. I am looking for tips to deal with celery. Everytime I buy some to use in a recipe, they go bad so fast. What can I do to make them last longer??? Thanks.

Green Onion Leftovers

I find that when I buy green onions that most of it goes bad before I can use it all. The last time I got some I decided to try to dehydrate them in my oven. I sliced all of the green onions up, chopping the white parts in half to help them seperate. I put them on my silcone mat on a cookie sheet turned my oven on warm (170) and left to door slightly ajar to try to get the temp down to 150 or so. Check on them after a while and stir with a spatula. When dried I stored them in a ziploc bag in the spice cabinet. This is what works for me now for more ideas go check out Rock in my Dryer.