Category Archives: Living on a budget

Meal Plan Sunday (6/12/2011)

I haven’t really uploaded any meal plans in a while but thought it would be a good idea doing this. When I posted my plan every week, I was much more diligent about actually making a plan.

Yesterday we stopped by our local Aldi and picked up mainly produce, fresh berries, and some meat. They had strawberries for sale ($1.49 per pack) and blueberries (also $ 1.49 per pack). I stocked up on those. They had big packs of frozen Tilapia at $ 3.00 per pound. We had those filets before and really liked them baked.

Anyway, here is this weeks menu:

And here is the legible version:

Breakfasts:

– Rice pudding with fresh cherries

– Oatmeal with milk and blueberries

– Wholewheat cereal with milk and apple slices

– Melon and berry smoothie, toast with homemade strawberry jam (I finally made a batch last week)

– Homemade waffles (from the freezer) with fruit

– Oatmeal with berries

– Scrambled eggs with toast, melon-berry-smoothie

Lunches:

– Peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt, fresh fruit ( x 2 )

– Leftovers and fresh fruit ( x 3)

Dinners:

– Pasta and veggie casserole with cheese

– Rice, beans and beef steaks ( x 2 )

– Pasta bolognese with veggies, side salad

– Wrap with ground beef, carrots and peppers, side salad

– Baked potato wedges, zucchini, mushrooms and baked chicken

– Leftovers

A 2nd Birthday Party – Part 1

On Friday was my son’s 2nd Birthday. I can’t believe it, since the last two years just went by so fast.

My little preemie baby is growing up and we can see his character traits coming through. A strong-willed little boy who loves to shares food, who loves, loves, loves balls, going for walks to the port and our chocolate lab.

The last two years I have also seen our worries about possible long-term preemie effects go away.

So finally Friday was the big day again. We decided this time to keep things very small. We only invited one married couple with their two daughters, and had a great time.

Party preparations started on Thursday evening. I had decided on homemade ice cream cake. So, after dinner I prepared a simple chocolate cake, which I then cut in half.

I added slices of strawberry and then cover the cake in foil to keep it from turning dry.

I also covered the same sized form with aluminum foil and then used this as a form for my ice cream, which I added while slightly soft. The form was then also covered and put in the freezer.

The next day, I then assembled the cake and the ice-cream layer, to create this:

Since my mixer gave up on me a few months ago, and I haven’t gotten around to buy a new one, I used the ready whip cream to decorate my cake. Not ideal, but it worked. But a new mixer is definitely on MY birthday wish-list.

After the little one went to bed, the hubby and I started blowing up balloons. Our son loves them, so I thought it would be cute to see how he would react to a room FULL of balloons when he woke up.

About 20 minutes of blowing up the balloons our living room looked like this:

I used some of the balloons to create a garland for our party corner and the rest was brought next to the baby’s bed.

Part 2 will follow soon …

A pop of color

I previously wrote about the small updates I made to our beige-on-beige master bathroom for very little money.

I used leftover paint from my hallway project to add a very light blue to the walls. Then I used the bottom portion that I had cut off from the white and long curtains in the master bedroom.

I also added some artwork by printing ocean inspired images.

The bathroom went from bla

to a little better:

So far, I was really liking my low budget updates, but something was missing. Now I had beige walls, very lightly colored walls, and my accent color was a baby blue that just didn’t seem to be enough to bring some fun to the room.

I also did not like our shower curtain anymore, which was (what a surprise!) and exciting beige color.

You see? The beige color of the shower curtain just did not work with the rest of my updates.I left it there however, until I could find something I could fall in love with. Here is a little peak:

I purchased a new curtain, bathmat, and hand towel on one of my recent trips to Ikea. They had the curtain on display in one of their bathroom models, and I fell in LOVE.

The colors were just what I needed for my bathroom. And the best part is, that this curtain fits perfectly. Its colors complete the look I was going for in my bathroom.

Cheating on Ikea … with Ikea

I cheated on Ikea with their own items again. This time for my son.

The last few weeks it became apparent at a friend’s house that he really liked the little kids table and chair sets.

However, Ikea prices for the little sets aren’t actually that cheap. We went looking around and decided on small white chairs, and ignored the tables they offered in the same section. Why? Because the math is very simple:

Chair + matching Table: $ 13.00 + $ 25.00 (or around that)

A cheaper alternative would be the kiddy chair with a $5.00 Lack Side Table.

We only purchased the chair from Ikea’s ‘as is’ section. The Lack-table itself we already from a few years ago and was taking up space in the guest room.

Now, we placed both in the little corner between our two sofas in the living room and the table serves as play table for my son and as sofa side table for the adults.

I created my own little oasis

As I have mentioned it before, we are still renting an apartment until we have saved up enough to buy our first home, hopefully sometime in 2012. So for now, we have to make our apartment work. We have access to the back yard, but it is 2 stories down and all the way at the end of a garage full of construction equipment and other stuff.

That’s for sure no easy access to an outdoor space where we can enjoy a little bit of sun in the afternoon or drink our morning coffee.

We do have this though:

Sadly, this was nowhere near the relaxing space I wanted our balcony to be.

So I took a close look at what I wanted and needed for this place:

  1. Comfy chairs with fun covers
  2. A table to put a glass on
  3. I didn’t want to spend a lot
  4. It had to be save for the baby.

First, I searched stores like Amazon, Ikea, Walmart and Overstock. None of the sets seemed to be comfortable AND cheap. All the bistro sets I looked at, where either cheap and seemed to be uncomfortable, or they where simply far too expensive.

This set had the price ($65.00 I think), a look I liked and chairs that actually seemed to be comfy. The ratings were very good too. However, I hesitated to buy this set, because my son is a climber and I was very afraid for him to climb onto the chair and then onto the table and for him to fall off the balcony. Scary thought!

So, this one would not work for us.

I also checked out Ikea, and they have some very nice outdoor sets right now.

I particularly liked this one:

I loved the blue cushions that fit these chairs and the price was great. But again, especially the table was too high for my comfort zone and the chairs were cute but did not invite for long sitting sessions.

Then I had an idea. We always used to have our blue beach chairs on the balcony. They are comfortable but not cute enough.

So I got two of these cushions from Ikea at 9.99 each:

Then I saw they had small outdoor footstools that could serve as my table:

I got a small plant, a little tray and one of their small multi-use rugs ($3.99), and created my own balcony oasis for about $ 50.00.

Here is another close-up:

Last week, we already enjoyed our first warm evening of the year outside. I believe we sat outside until almost 10pm enjoying a glass of wine.

I am so happy about this little update, especially since all my requirements were met. I did not spend a lot of money, my balcony is very cute now, the chairs are comfortable and the table is VERY low, so that even if my son climbs on it, he is not able to reach the top end of the balcony rail.

Last week, I caught myself peaking out to the balcony soooo many times. Amazing how a little flower and some fun colors can really turn a space around to the better. This is definitely going to work for us this summer.

(Liniked up to Centsational Girls’ Outdoor Party)

Mmmmh …. Bacon :)

Here is a very easy recipe for one of my favorite side dishes. All you need is a package of bacon and a can of green beans.

Slightly grease a baking form with a little bit of butter or oil. Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut bacon slices in half and then wrap about 3 beans in the bacon.

Slightly sprinkle bacon with pepper (no salt necessary!). The bake in oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until crispy.

I had stir-fried pasta with this:

Cook pasta in salt water, then drain.

Fry some more bacon in a pan. Add pasta to the bacon.

I also added green peppers and 4 eggs. Mix everything until the eggs are cooked. I added ground pepper and paprika spice.

Here a closer picture:

There you go. A very easy and quick meal for all the bacon lovers out there.

Meal Plan Sunday

Here is this week’s meal plan:

Breakfasts:

Cornflakes with Banana, Oatmeal, Homemade Waffles, Mozzarella Sandwiches

Lunches:

Leftovers ( x 3), Mozzarella Sandwiches

Dinners:

Rice, Pork Medallions, Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Spinach Quiche, Baked Potato Wedges, Sausage and a Side Salad (I ended up not making this last week because we had friends over and ordered Pizza)

Rice, Beans, Chicken

Pasta Bolognese with Veggies

Veggie Soup, Garlic Bread

Rice, Beans, Beef

Leftovers

Snacks:

Baby Carrots, Apples, Pears, Banana-Smoothies, Crackers, Joghurt