Monday, February 29, 2016

Oily DIY

Staying at home has opened a whole new world of possibilities in the way of hobbies. One of my favorite things has been creating/discovering new recipes to use my growing stash of essential oils. Don't worry this isn't a post all about how wonderful my oils are, how much I love them and how you should buy them - just wanted to share a few of my favorite uses and a great way to make a thoughtful gift for someone you love. I recently put together a basket of goodies for a wedding present and included the following DIY oil recipes. 


Cracked Pepper infused Olive Oil 
  • I used this container from Target
  • Fill a measuring cup with Olive Oil and grind about 1 Tablespoon of fresh peppercorn into it 
  • Add 5-7 drops of black pepper essential oil (or to taste if you like it really spicy)
  • Pour through a funnel into container of your choice
  • Top off with olive oil until container is full
  • Shake well before use
Lavender Hand Soap*
  • Fill soap dispenser about 1/4 of the way with Castille Soap
  • Add 15-20 drops of Lavender Essential Oil
  • Fill the rest of the way with water
  • You can also add vitamin E or coconut oil for an added moisturizing effect
  • Shake well to combine ingredients
Lavender Citrus Dish Soap* (degreaser)
  • In a microwave safe container heat about 2 cups of water
  • Dissolve 2 Tablespoons of Washing Soda
  • Add 2 teaspoons of Orange Extract
  • Fill soap dispenser about 1/4 of the way with Castille Soap 
  • Add 15 drops of Lavender Essential Oil
  • Once cooled and washing soda has dissolved, pour on top of Castille Soap and oil mixture, shake well to combine
Not only does the Lavender smell heavenly... it also works as a disinfectant, so you can be sure things are clean while also filling your kitchen with a lovely aroma. 

I use Young Living brand essential oils for various reasons, if you plan to ingest the oils I would highly recommend doing your research and ONLY using therapeutic grade oils.  

*When mixing soaps be sure to leave space at the top of the of the container or when you shake to combine it will spew everywhere!!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

BBQ Pulled Pork

One of my favorite crock pot recipes is pulled pork, it is so versatile and it feeds so many people! I usually cook it with just a little salt and pepper and a can of beer but today I decided to jazz things up and add some good old fashioned BBQ sauce.

I also neglected to take a picture of all the ingredients... BUT I promise you will love this recipe even if it doesn't come with a step by step photo guide ;)

You will need:
  • 2-3lb Pork Butt (I use bone in because it makes it even more juicy and yummy, but you can use boneless if you prefer)
  • 12 oz Beer
  • Bottle of your favorite sauce - I used the HEB Texas Flavor and let me just say, I did not regret it... just the right amount of tang and heat.

Rub the pork with salt and pepper, then combine all ingredients into a crock pot and cook on low for 8-12 hours, low and slow y'all... it's the only way to do pork. TRUST ME. 

Another tip... put that pork fatty side up so as the fat melts it runs through all the meat keeping it nice and juicy.

Once the pork is cooked, shred with a fork and remove any bones - they make a nice treat for puppies if you have one hanging around. 

After shredding, allow pork to cook in sauce/juices for another 30-60 min then serve anyway you choose. 

I made sliders this time around and served them with borracho beans and roasted sweet potatoes... but you can also use the pork to make enchiladas, nachos or whatever your little heart desires!


Thursday, February 25, 2016

No Spend February - Lesson Learned


A lot of you have been very supportive and curious about our no spend February adventure and as much as I would like to be writing a post about how successful it was, I prefer to be honest. I didn't start writing this blog to tell you how awesome we are, but instead my intention is to be real. So, let me just say, "No Spend February" might be better phrased as a "Failure February". Here is my recap and lessons learned - hopefully they help you as you plan your adventure into not spending. I plan to take these lessons into our next attempt and hopefully do it better next time around.

Recap of the month...

Week One - WENT AWESOME! We stuck to the meal plan, we didn't spend an unplanned dime, we essentially rocked it. Week one gives me hope that it's actually possible to accomplish a no spend month.

Week Two - I ran out of lunch food and frozen homemade baby food (breastfeeding has given me the appetite of a teenage boy and the boys apparently hit a growth spurt) so we spent more than $20 on groceries... oops...

Week Three - The boys came down with RSV - we had to drop $200 on antibiotics and probiotics - and diapers because changing/washing 8 diarrhea cloth diapers a day is not something I wanted to do. Sick babies and very tired parents is not really an ideal environment for sticking to a plan, it did help having meals all ready to go but we strayed a bit from our no spend.

Week Four - four days in and the meal calendar on the fridge has not been updated - The boys and I spent a couple days in Austin for a change of scenery and we had an impromptu trip to Waco to visit and old friend. To say I gave up this week would be an understatement...

Lesson 1: Life with two infants is unpredictable

I sometimes think it is almost impossible to get anything done with 2 babies but then I step back and realize that somehow we do. We get stuff done, but it requires a lot of planning. We can't just drop everything and go anymore, we have to plan ahead. Don't get me wrong we still have spontaneity in our life but for example, today, one kid pooped and woke himself up, then spent and hour screaming at me and went back down just in time for his brother to wake up... then the brother who took a late nap wakes up just as it's time for other brother to go down... so the errands I had planned, the walk I had planned, they all wait, they wait until tomorrow because life with two infants is unpredictable. So while meal planning is wonderful and it does help us get things done and spend less money, some days I don't get to make myself lunch - some days I don't eat breakfast until morning nap starts, so some days driving through Starbucks is the only option because otherwise I won't eat.

Lesson 2: Be realistic about your needs

As mentioned above, I need to have flexible options. Meal planning is great but because of the unpredictability there needs to be at least a plan b & c, sometimes d. Also, making sure I account for the days where we just need to get out of the house because naps aren't happening. 

Lesson 3: Stock the pantry/fridge a little better before attempting "No Spend"

Next time we attempt this, I will make sure to stock up on lots of lunch and side dish options, or double the freezer recipes to make more left overs. I thought this was included in my original meal plan but somehow I miscalculated. So next time we try this - I will plan a little better. Instead of starting with an empty pantry I will do a stock up trip (more on that later) and then my meal plan trip. Hopefully this can help curb the days when I don't get dinner in the crock pot or forget to turn it on... or we run out of leftovers and there's nothing else to eat.

Lesson 4: If at first you don't succeed - try, try again!

SO try we will - probably in April - stay tuned for more... and on a positive note we still have a few freezer meals to start off March.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Faves

Back to back Friday posts... that means it has been a crazy week at the Burnett Bungalow. Both boys are fully mobile now and they care keeping me busy.

Here are some of the things I did have time to discover this week...


This article on Scary Mommy... 


I fall into a few of these categories and I have truly been working on not getting offended when people ask about the boys - or what I do all day, especially when they do just seem genuinely curious.

"The sad thing is, these are all moms that I’d love to be friends with in real life. I wish that rude, nosy folks hadn’t ruined the art of conversation for everyone, because there are people like me who genuinely seek connection with parents of all stripes. I’ve never been one for wasting time on small talk—I want to get to know the real person I’m speaking with—but I feel like chit chat is all that’s available anymore. Living in a culture where people are quick to get offended, I worry that being on the defensive all the time is preventing us from initiating true friendships and sharing our unique stories."

Buzzfeed hits the nail on the head again with THIS article


Everything from sleep to food to moods and behaviors... it was worth losing an hour of sleep to scroll through these.

This article with all sorts of amazing baby hacks! Thank you two twenty one :) 


This Eulogy from OKC Thunder Coach, Monty Williams, at his Wife's Memorial service... #amen
It is worth the 7 minutes of your day - truly up lifting.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Friday Faves...

So I totally forgot to post on Friday because I was busy working on a few projects for some sweet baby girls and their mamas,  but alas here are my faves from the week... All about the apps today.


This online database of children's books speaks for itself. 


I might be late to the party on this one, but Pop Key Gif keyboard will take your texting game to the next level. You could have an entire conversation in gifs.


I've been using Unroll Me for awhile now - and it has cut down on my junk mail significantly. Basically it cleans up your inbox and rolls all of your subscriptions into one email that is delivered daily. If you are like me and sign up for every store email you see but hate when your inbox is cluttered by them - this is the app for you.


Brad's Deals is an awesome app - it is like groupon on steroids - it finds the best deals on the internet for you and you can even select to be alerted when certain brands go on sale. I scored a northface jacket for 80% off thanks to this app. I'm currently stalking Michael Kors wallets :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Meal Planning

Meal Planning has never been an easy task for me - for someone who hates planning so much and loves food so much it always seemed so drab being stuck to a schedule, but I have to say, it's not all terrible.

First things first you will need some tools to get started - almost all of them can be made at home or purchased for cheaper than what I have but who doesn't love an excuse to shop? Am I right?

I use this magnet board, which I scored in the dollar spot at target for $3 (that place is so dangerous for my wallet and my marriage)... They have a few other color and design options or you could make your own very easily if you're crafty like that. I've already stocked up on them to give as gifts. This is where I track what we are eating for the week - it also helps answer the question of "what's for dinner?" while keeping me accountable/reminding me to take the food out of the freezer in the garage. If you are planning on doing freeze ahead meals regularly I recommend having a lot of freezer space... we have a deep freezer in the garage and it is perfect for meal storage - leaving our inside freezer open for more important things, like ice cream.


At the beginning of the month I sat down to make a list of some of our favorite meals that are fairly cheap and easy to make. We eat a lot of Chicken because it is cheap and fairly good for you. I subscribe to an email list from New Leaf Wellness and I find that her freeze ahead crock pot recipes are some of the best I have seen/used/tasted/tested. They are simple, easy to follow and she provides you with a grocery list of everything you need - taking at least one of the steps out of the whole planning process. She also has some pretty nifty downloadable labels that are PERFECT for organizing your meals. Half of our meals this month came from here.

So my list of meals consists of all dinner options, as well as lunch, breakfast and snack - I do enough dinners to cover 1/2 the month. This accounts for the few times we might eat out or when we will eat leftovers. Almost all of my meals make enough for 2 dinners or 1 dinner and 3 leftover lunches - so there is no need to make a new meal each night. We are also not home every night so on the nights one of us is eating alone we have leftovers and lean cuisines to supplement. For lunches we mostly eat leftovers, lean cuisines or sandwiches. I try to buy things that will last the whole month and that we don't have to replenish so all we are buying each week at the store is produce/milk and other perishables.


Once I have my list down I grab my calendar page (also from NLW) and I start filling it out. I usually have my planner right next to me as well so I can plan meals according to what we have going on that month. If we are going to be out of town, etc. I usually have Wed and Thur as leftover nights so that we can eat what is cooked before being away for the weekend. I hate to have things go bad just because we left town.



After filling in all the dinners I sometimes add in lunch - for instance if I know what I'm going to make on Monday will give leftovers for the week's lunches I write that in. That also helps me know if I should stick the sandwich bread in the fridge or wait to buy lunch meat. I keep breakfast pretty open because I like to have choices.

At the beginning of every week - on Sunday evenings, I fill out our fridge calendar and my weekly menu snap-in for my planner.


Hopefully this helps those of you who have no idea where to begin or gives some fresh ideas to those veteran meal planners. I personally am still learning what works for us but I am enjoying the system we have in place for now. I was pretty skeptical of planning meals out - thinking I wouldn't like always knowing what is to eat and the inevitable predictability of it all, but I am eating crow one week in, because I AM LOVING IT.  I think the key to that is picking food you know you will like, but also trying a few new things as well. I'll also be sharing the recipes this month* as I cook them, but until then see below for links to my planning supplies... 

Planner - Erin Condren
I have the notebook with a monthly calendar at the front, I uncoiled the planner and added a few pages behind each month from the notebook section

Meal Planner Snap In - Erin Condren

To get a $10 off your purchase from Erin Condren use this link:




*some of the recipes were purchased from New Leaf Wellness so I will share the ones I am able, and the ones that I cannot I will link to her cookbooks.



Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Faves

It's Friday, and that means another edition of my favorite finds... I know you were just sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for this so here goes... today we're talking graphic design and wine!



Canva.com - I was searching high and low for some cute party invitations for a shower we are hosting at the end of this month and I was having no luck. All the ones I loved on minted.com were going to bust my budget wide open and the themes I found on etsy just didn't make my heart sing like a good party invite should.... so I stumbled upon canva and y'all I am in love. You can design your own etsy-esque invitations for FREE and they have a ton of great fonts and designs to choose from. You can then download your invite as a printable PDF or PNG file and upload to staples, office max or wherever you choose to have it printed. Definite time and money saver. I'll post a picture of my finished invites after the partaaaaaay.


My sweet friend Julia introduced me to this wine site called Heartwood & Oak - that she stumbled upon via restaurant.com. I have never seen cases so cheap and sometimes even with FREE shipping. The best part you don't have to join any club - just sign up for emails and pick/choose to order when you feel like it. To give you an example of how amazing their deals can be: say you purchase a case on one of their specials at around $80 you are only spending about $7 per bottle, and if you are like me you can check the retail prices on each wine and you will see that most bottles retail for around $12-$20. So that's saving you a lot of money... if you are a wine lover, or you entertain often this is a great site to start visiting on the reg.



Red Laser is a free scanner app that tells you where items are purchased and allows you to compare prices on different items. I found it incredibly useful when trying to return baby gifts that we didn't need or never got to use before the boys grew out of them. You won't regret downloading it.



This article on Scary Mommy recapping funny parents of twitter and their commentary on drinking around small children. I found a few new twitter feeds to follow from this one. 



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Weekend Recap

This past weekend was our first weekend home in awhile - since Thanksgiving we have just been going non stop. Weddings, Birthdays, Family in town or visiting out of town - so it was very nice to just have a couple days at home with no set plans. 

Friday night Ben refereed soccer and I had dinner delivered by the one and only Heather! We had some much needed girl time and caught up on her life as a newlywed. She also filled me in on all the things I don't miss about going to school every day. 

Saturday Ben spent the morning running the car to the shop and working in the yard, while the boys and I played inside. I missed out on a make and take oil party that I wanted to attend because of nap schedules and being on baby duty, so that afternoon we had a late lunch at Ben's favorite place, Crawfish Express, with our friends The Whites. (Local Peeps: if you don't know about this place, consider yourself informed and get there fast... I personally don't eat crawfish but my husband is somewhat of a connoisseur and he swears by this place. I personally love their king crab legs and red beans and rice, plus they have a backyard atmosphere that makes you feel right at home.)


Crawfish as big as your face...




Enjoying the nice weather before the cold front hits.

Saturday night was my local mom's group ladies night out at Painting With a Twist. It was so fun to get out, meet a few new moms, and drink some wine. I'll let you be the judge of my artistic skills... just don't be too harsh.

    
 

Sunday was spent enjoying family time and prepping for the week ahead. We had our final meal out at The Gin before our no spend February and the boys were champs at the restaurant. Ben worked for a few hours then had an indoor soccer game so the boys and I spent the afternoon playing in the front yard and hanging out at home. We had dinner as a family, put the boys to bed and then I headed to the store to stock up for the month while Ben relaxed and watched a movie.


I had the easier meal to eat so I was tasked with holding Wyatt and keeping Owen entertained (Wyatt does not find high chairs as amusing as Owen)



Trying a Lemon - the response was very underwhelming from both boys...



Eating pouches like the champs they are

Honestly it was one of the more perfectly boring weekends we have had in a long time, and I could get used to spending more of them this way, but maybe with a date night thrown in every once in awhile for good measure.


Monday, February 1, 2016

7 Months

These sweet precious boys turned 7 months old Friday!


7 months... I'm still in shock that they've been here for just 7 short months. It literally feels like they were born 7 years ago and yesterday all at the same time. We celebrated this particular milestone with our flu shot booster! Yay shots!

This month has been big one. We got to throw a party for our Uncle Brett & Rachael who we are officially calling Auntie, both boys started crawling at lightning speed, pulling up on EVERYTHING and Wyatt has mastered the W sit - yet another #momfail in the books - but we are working on it. 

Wyatt is still as concentrated as ever and Owen has started to take after little brother in this aspect. Both boys study everything and thoroughly enjoy playing in and around their exer-saucers. Gross motor is off the charts for both boys, but Owen still pulls a little ahead. Owen is standing on EVERYTHING and trying to stand on his own, while I'm over here thinking "Slow your roll dude..." I bet they are both walking before one... #Lordhelpus



Owen concentrating really hard - I tried to call his name to get a pic but no success, pretty sure they have learned how to ignore me as well...



Wyatt patting big bro



Studying their new toy

They are finally to the age where they recognize Ben and I, as well as each other, this makes everything exponentially cuter. Their faces, their noises, everything. They search for each other in the morning and spend at least an hour catching up with each other. It's like SO much happened while they were sleeping that they have to hash it out. Seriously the cutest thing. The other morning after nursing Wyatt he popped his head up, saw Ben and it was like Christmas morning. Coos, giggles and immediate crawling to wake up Daddy. #bestillmyheart

I can officially say the boys are now eating solids, just once a day, but still it's ALMOST everyday. Both are still nursing like champs but I hope to start doing solids more than once a day in the next few weeks. They really enjoy eating anything and everything - minus peas, peas are a no go and we learned this when they decided to show off their other new skill, projectile spitting. If there were a tin bucket on their high chair trays, both boys would be masters at making the "Puh-tang" noise. You know the one rednecks make when they spit their dip?

Things they love this month: Being outside, reading books, singing with mama, swinging, sitting up in the bathtub, splashing (Owen), drinking water from a sippy cup and straw (Wyatt), holding hands with each other, playing peek a boo with EVERYONE including Daphne, pulling Daphne's tail, and her ears, eating fruit and cookies and grass and leaves, chewing on everything, pulling up, hitting and banging on toys, studying the mirror, cuddles, the windows down in the car, and so much more.

Things they hate this month: When mom leaves the room, when Daphne leaves the room, loud noises, getting stuck under toys, falling while trying to climb, shots, being strapped into anything including car seats, not being able to see each other, when mom won't let them drink the bath water, when mom takes away grass and leaves, when mom claps her hands or says no.

Weight - About 19 lbs each
Height - Around 25 inches or so
Feet - Huge like puppy dog paws
Hands - Full of wrist rolls
Sleep - We are getting there...
having much longer stretches and falling asleep on our own now!
(thank you cry it out)



Those arms and those rolls... yum.



Owen, the big bro, always checking on Wy-guy



Oh Hey Mom, just chilling in my swing...



Hey, Mom, You still there?? Peek a boo?


And just to prove that they don't sit still for photos all the time... OUTAKES from our 7 month "photo shoot"










No Spend February


After the holidays and a very busy January our bank account is bleeding. Just like every other married couple I know, money is a huge source of tension in our household.  For us the tension mostly stems from the fact that my husband - he is a saver and me, well I am a spender.  Couple that with being on one income and you have a recipe for disaster.  I'm sure many of you can relate, and I'm sure many of you have also read about the idea behind "no spend" months. We decided to finally try it out this month because, one, it is the shortest of the months and, two, it seemed like a good time to stick some extra moolah back into savings. 

Because this is our first no spend month we are not being super strict, and we created our own rules to ease into the idea of not spending. We started by figuring out where our biggest budget bleeds were happening and we quickly realized that eating out is our kryptonite. No surprise there.

Before the boys were born I stocked our freezer with healthy crockpot dishes and it made meal planning/saving on groceries so much easier! Since they've been around however, it seems like a lot of things have been shoved aside for convenient alternatives... showers were traded for dry shampoo, pants swapped out for leggings, bras replaced by nursing tanks... so it is no big surprise that home cooked meals were replaced by fast easy take-out. 

Basically the entire purpose of this month is to kick our rears into gear and get us back on budget. Since we have been eating out so much lately and I never really restocked our pantry after the holidays I headed to the store the last week of January to restock the pantry, fridge and freezer.

Our normal food budget is $500 per month - so to help save this month we have allotted only $20 per week for fresh produce (if needed) and the rest of the food must come from what was purchased at the end of January. This $20 will be taken out of the bank in cash to help hold us more accountable. Since I like to have fresh produce to snack on and accompany dinner, this seemed like a fair compromise to not spending at all - and we will still be saving $420 on groceries. 

Rules for our no spend month include: 

  1. Any extracurricular activities must come from excess funds (babysitting, refereeing, selling stuff on facebook/craigslist etc. - we currently have two events planned for February that were on the calendar before the no spend initiative so this should be interesting)
  2. Any gifts must be purchased with previously held gift cards (since we don't celebrate Valentine's day this shouldn't be too hard)
  3. No traveling outside of a 30 mile radius 
  4. Clean out closets (sell/donate all unnecessary items)
  5. NO EATING OUT (unless funded by the aforementioned extracurricular fund)
  6. Anything we "need" gets put on a list for next month (to be re-evaluated the first week of March)

I'll be doing a whole post with my meal planning process later this week but as a sneak preview - here's everything we've got to work with based on my last big grocery trip... 

Dinner
Ginger Garlic Chicken
Pot Roast with Veggies
Sesame Corn Chicken
Balsamic Chicken with Brussel sprouts
Orange Chicken w/ Peppers
Roasted Squash & Chicken
Pulled Pork (for sliders & enchiladas)
Red Beans & Rice
Chili
Taco Soup
Buritto Bowls
Meatball Subs
Tacos
Penne & Red Sauce

*All the chicken dishes are served with Rice or noodles

Lunch 
Lean Cuisines 
Sandwiches 
Oatmeal
Waffles
Quesadillas
Hamburgers (I buy the frozen pre cooked patties from HEB - surprisingly delicious)
Fruit Smoothies

Breakfast
HEB Donuts
Frozen Waffles
Toaster Strudels
Instant Oatmeal
Frozen Pancakes (I pre made a bunch this weekend & froze them into individual servings)

Snacks
Cliff Bars
Smoothies
Fresh Fruit
Fruit Popsicles (no sugar added)
Chips


So there you have it - our start to a "No Spend Month..." wishes of luck and lots of prayers are always welcome... as are words of wisdom from any no spend veterans out there.