Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Mexican style chicken thigh soup

This recipe is frugal and feeds a large family with ease. Chicken thighs are pretty inexpensive and around here go on sale often. You can also use chicken breast. You can adjust the spice level by adding or taking away the amount of chili you add.
Its hard to mess this one up and it is easily adjusted to feed more or less. 

Chicken Thigh Soup

2 tablespoons oil
5.medium tomatoes, diced                      or you can use one can of Rotel or tomatoes and green
1 jalapeno diced                                            chilies in place of the tomatoes and Jalapenos  
1 lg. onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon salt
8 chicken thighs (you can sneak an extra on or two in if you need too)
1 5.75 oz jar Green olives with pimientos including juice
2 8 oz jars tomato sauce
1 12oz can of Coke
3 lg. potatoes ,skin on, washed and cubed
Water (enoigh to cover chicken and potatoes by about 1 inch)         or you can use chicken broth in 
2 chicken bullion cubes                                                                    place of the water and bullion.

In large pot heat oil and add the tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, garlic and salt. Cook until tomatoes release their juice. Add the rest of the ingredients and cover with water until chicken and potatoes are covered by about one inch. Boil until chicken is thoroughly cooked and potatoes are soft. 
Serve with tortillas, refried beans and Spanish rice. Garnish with shredded lettuce, diced tomato and sour cream.

November Meal Plan

   So now that you have seen my November grocery hall, if you haven't you can see it Here. The question is "What will I turn all this food into?"
 Here is my November list of foods. I don't necessarily make each meal on the given day, although I try to, I have the flexibility to switch days around as needed.

  1.  Chicken noodle soup, dinner rolls
  2. Spaghetti and meat balls 
  3. Ground beef burritos, beans and Spanish rice
  4. Tostadas de Tingo, left over beans and Spanish Rice
  5. Grilled Chicken, Baked Potato, salad
  6. Mexican Style Chicken Thigh soup
  7. Spaghetti and left over meatballs, salad
  8. Chicken Enchiladas, Bean, Spanish rice
  9. Salisbury Steak, Mashed potatoes, salad
  10. Homemade pizza, salad
  11. Chicken taquitos
  12. Cornbread Mexican Casserole
  13. Creamy chicken and broccoli with bow tie pasta
  14. Green Chili enchilada casserole
  15. Grilled Chicken tacos
  16. Hamburgers, Macaroni salad, oven fries
  17. Homemade Pizza
  18. 15 bean soup with ham, dinner rolls
  19. Fried Chicken, homemade mac and cheese, baked potato
  20. Chili Colorado, tortillas, Beans, Spanish rice
  21. Shepard's pie, salad
  22. Spaghetti, salad 
  24. Pizza
  25. Turkey pot pie
  26. Fried ground beef tacos
  27. Country ham and potato bake
  28. Salsa Chicken tacos
  29. Slow cooker beef and potato au gratin
  30. aroz con pollo (chicken and Spanish rice dish)

Novembers Grocery Shopping Trip.

My grocery budget for November was $610. This had to include all of our groceries, toiletries, Animal feed (We are still well stocked on hay, dog food and chicken feed from last month, so this month I just needed a bag of cat food), Thanksgiving dinner needs (the turkeys are still pecking around in my yard, so no need to buy a turkey) and I was able to sneak some Christmas gifts in there too.
Here Goes


             PRODUCT                                  PRICE PER EACH
40 pk. Bottled water x2                             2.99  (This goes into our emergency water storage)
51 oz. Foldgers Coffee                              9.99
#10 can HUnts Ketchup                            3.19
13.5 lbs Arm and Hammer Baking Soda  6.59  (This is for cleaning, cooking, and the goats)
20 lb Potatoes x2                                       6.99
White vinegar box of 2                              3.89
10 lb Ground Beef                                     29.90
10 lb Ground Beef                                     30.14
48 oz. Tortilla chips                                   3.49
6 lb yellow onions                                     5.79 (I could have done better on this)
5.75 lbs Corn Tortillas x2                          3.19
3lb 8oz Peanuts                                          5.59
3lb. Sour cream                                          4.39
2Pk 17 oz Cooking Spray                          4.99
6 ct. Romaine lettuce                                 3.79
1.05 G Dishsoap                                        7.99 (I use this for dishes, cleaners, and laundry detergent. 1 tsp. per load in my HE front  load washer)
3.5 lb CoffeeMate Creamer                       5.99
3lb Cream Cheese                                      7.99 (splurge item)
5lb Sliced american cheese                        9.99 (not cheese singles, makes good mac and cheese for kids lunches)
6lb Mozzarella Cheese block                    12.99
2lb Cheddar Cheese block                         4.79
5lb Carrots                                                 4.99
4lb Frozen mixed berries                           9.49 (This will be used for making jam and for topping oatmeal)
64 oz Mayonnaise                                      4.59 (i make a lot of potato and macaroni salad as sides to our meals)
5 lb Frozen Organic corn                            5.99
6lb Honey                                                    16.89 (I use this in BBQ sauces, Honey Mustard and as a sweetener)



  PRODUCT                                  PRICE PER EACH

16lb Cat food                                                                    9.98
60 ct eggs                                                                          3.78 (then chickens are keeping up with the kids)
13 ct. G Freezer bags                                                         1.98
12 oz c. Evaporated milk x4                                              .94
6 oz Paste x6                                                                      .72
16 oz c black olives x2                                                     1.98
14 oz C Cranberry sauce x2                                               .98
30 oz Suave Shampoo x3                                                  1.94
30 oz Suave Conditioner x3                                              1.94
48 oz Ranch Dressing                                                        3.88
7.5 oz Liquid hand soap x2                                                .75
96 baking cups                                                                    1.00
.38 lb Jalapenos                                                                  .37 (I have a bunch of tomatoes I need to turn into salsa)
Family pack Chicken breast 5.85 lb                                   10.49
Family Pack Chicken breast 5.93 lb                                   10.63
Family Pack Chicken breast  4.73 lb                                   8.48
Family Pack Chicken breast  4.65 lb                                   10.12
13.5 oz Equate Body Lotion                                                3.63
11 oz hair spray                                                                    1.97
12 oz frozen sweet peas                                                        .84
90 bobby pins                                                                        1.94
.5 oz Breath easy essential oil                                              5.94
100 ct. Aspirin                                                                      .98
1.41 Goya ham flavoring                                                      1.12
45 ct. 13 G Trash bags                                                           5.12
10 ct. Hair ties                                                                       .88
12 oz Frozen Green Beans  x2                                              .84
18 ct quart freezer bags                                                         1.98
48 ct. Maxi pads                                                                     3.76
28 oz Sriracha sauce                                                               3.48
32 oz Lemon juice                                                                 2.48 ( I use it for canning, add a splash to iced water and tea)
64 oz Creamy Peanut Butter                                                6.33
29 oz Fruit cocktail x2                                                          1.86
24 ct Children's Acetaminophen chew-able                         2.88
2 oz Tea tree oil                                                                    8.88 (for cleaners)
1 G Milk  x3                                                                          1.98 (goats are dropping the ball, must be talking to the chickens, All the animals need to get it together)
whole chicken 2 pack                                                            9.97
Whole chicken 2 pack                                                           10.61          
10 lb leg quarters  x 2                                                            5.87
52 oz Frozen Broccoli                                                            5.98
4 lb Smoked ham  x2                                                             8.88
5 lb Frozen mixed vegetables                                                 5.98          



Amazon Christmas gift order = $139.00

Grand Total = 611.83  

I am over by $1.83  


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Schedules and Routines

I am a list maker and a schedule junkie. I love looking at other peoples schedules to see how they manage their time and organize their days.
BUT I don't actually have a schedule. NOPE! cant block myself into one, I just cant function in blocks of times. I am, however, great at checking things off my list and sticking to routines,
Whats the difference between a routine and a schedule?
A schedule is set into periods of time. Such as 
9:00 Breakfast
10:00 Laundry
11:00 Clean Bathroom
A routine is a habit, a flow, a way you go about your day. For instance, I know that I need to do 3 loads of laundry a day to stay on top of mount washmore. I know my day goes smoother and I'm more motivated if I take a shower and get dressed first thing in the morning. I know that if I tidy up the bathroom while I'm in there, it's more likely that the bathroom will get cleaned then if I try to go back and do it later.
By paying attention to your household needs, the way your home flows, and when your most energetic, you can set up your own routine. Start one habit at a time. For me, I started by making sure I got in the shower first thing in the morning, before coffee (if I sit down with a cup of coffee my day gets away from me). Know yourself and be honest with yourself about your weaknesses and strengths. Next I added making my bed and sweeping my bedroom floor. There really is something to seeing your bed made that is super motivating. I just continued adding one thing at a time. When it became a habit I would add another. Of course, I still had to do the other things in my home but in time it was less of a chore and just a habit.
I created a morning, afternoon and evening checklist. I wrote down everything that I wanted to accomplish or that had to be done in the morning, afternoon and evening. Some things like feeding the kids are at set times and obviously can't be put off. I tried to list things in the order that I'd like to get them done. But because it is a list/routine and not a time blocked schedule, there is no guilt or loss in flow of my day from moving things around or skipping over somethings if need be.

Morning Routine

  • Take a shower, get dressed, do hair and light makeup
  • Tidy bathroom,wipe down sink and toilet, give the toilet bowl a swish with toilet brush
  • Take out laundry from laundry basket and start a load
  • Make coffee and wake kids
  • Get kids started on their morning routine, make my bed and sweep my bedroom floor
  • Everyone outside to do animal/garden chores
  • Everyone eat breakfast and tidy kitchen
  • Math, Reading, writing,phonics
  • other studies based on day of the week 
  • Start another load of laundry, Everyone folds and puts away

Afternoon Routine

  • Lunch and tidy kitchen
  • Baking and dinner prep.
  • Outdoor time or projects
  • Start another load of laundry, Everyone folds and puts away

Evening Routine

  • Dinner 
  • Clean Kitchen including dishes, stove top, sweep and mop floor,
  • Clean living room including floors
  • Start another load of laundry, Everyone folds and puts away
  • Kids take baths 
  • Take out last load of laundry, Everyone folds and puts away
  • Kids Bed at 9:30
I like to have my night time routine set me up for a good morning the next day. It is much better to wake up to a clean kitchen instead of waking up to yesterdays mess. Do I sometimes wake up to yesterdays mess? Of course I do. I have learned to give myself and my family grace. I try not to make it a habit though. Remember what you do most frequently is the habit you have created and its hard to break old habits so set yourself up for success by creating good habits, one habit at a time. Once you have a good habit try to keep it.

Kids Routine

My kids also have routines. And like myself I started them one habit at a time. I started with a good bed time routine. A set bedtime and a predictable flow. Even though we are a very relaxed family I think children really do thrive with routine and predictability. Next I added a mourning routine for them. They wake up and make their beds. Then they get dressed for the day, tidy their room and everyone heads out for some fresh air and animal/garden chores. My son feeds and waters the chickens, turkeys, goats, dogs and cats. My daughters share the milking chores and make sure the goats have their minerals and baking soda. I water the garden and do any weeding with the littlest one and we all share coop cleaning and run raking. If there are wood chips that need moved or fruit trees that need water we just split those up between each other. For the most part we do all the outdoor and in door chores together as a team. One might wash dishes while the other drys and puts away. Someone else will put the leftovers away and clear the table. We have really gotten to the point where we all just know what needs done and everyone just jumps in and does it. I think by doing it as a team and a family has encourage everyone to help, no one wants to feel left out. We try to have fun and play around. Do we sometimes have someone who doesn't want to join in? Of course, sometimes you just aren't in the mood, but like myself, I don't want them to make a habit of skipping out on their routine so at times I do have to step in and enforce the habit. 

Prayers are answered

Almost 20 years ago my husband and I bought this acre and 1/4 of land just outside of the city limits. We had 3 very small children at the time and we were living in a small 1 bedroom apartment. This new piece of land had 2 mobile homes and a brick 2 car garage that had been converted into a studio apartment. It was amazing and I was in love.
Before moving to Arizona at 16 with my husband and his family, I lived in rural  California and then in a small coastal town. I remember driving to church on Sundays and seeing the cows in the fields, the corn fields and the smell of farm land. Spending the summers camping in the mountains and playing in the streams. I remember playing in the ocean and and catching fish. The tall forests and the grassy meadows.
Needless to say the transition from green fields and ocean to hot dry cactus and a big city was hard for me.
This little piece of land was green and had beautiful trees. I was so in love. Just having a yard for my kids to play in was great but to have this much yard was AMAZING.
I was in my very early 20's at the time and didn't really understand the potential this little piece of land held. Over the next 12 years we added 3 more children and the mobile home was getting smaller and smaller and needing more and more repairs, but I was starting to see what an amazing piece of land we had. By this point I was learning about food storage and cooking from scratch. I was also homeschooling and we had 2 small flocks of chickens that we were incubating eggs from. Outside the mobile home life was great. The garden was beautiful and the fat hens and cocky roosters were a joy to watch clucking around but inside the mobile home even though it was full of love and many amazing memories it was getting cramped and frustrating. So we made the decision to move but we refused to that sell that piece of land we had been blessed with. My in laws have always lived in the other mobile home and they continued to live there. We on the other hand moved to a much bigger home in a neighborhood with a HOA and a pretty decent mortgage payment. We were moving up in the world or so it would seem.
 Because of the mortgage payment I was forced to get a job and so my time that had been dedicated to homemaking, homeschooling and my family was now having to be redirected to earning a paycheck. I was slowly sinking into a deep depression. A part of me loved working. I really enjoyed my co workers and my job and it was a good job. But my heart was at home with my children and my husband. Between my husband and I we were making good money for the first time in our lives but we were still struggling because the bills to maintain this home and lifestyle were more than we anticipated. We were also struggling because we never saw each other and we were never together as a family anymore. Both of our jobs were high stress and in a field where you see the worse society has to offer. Our oldest daughters were now young adults or teenagers and our babies weren't getting the attention or home life our oldest kids had.
So one day after 5 years of this charade of fake happiness and what felt like living someone else's life we said enough.....we have had enough. This is not the life we want, this is not the childhood we want for our children. We did something absolutely CRAZY, we quit our jobs and sold our home. With the  equity from the house we sold we moved back to our land, our place of peace, our place of family. Did I mention we were in the middle of adopting our 4 yr. old niece at the time? Yeah there was stress and it was a crazy brave move to make.
With the money we had we gutted and totally remodeled the mobile home on the back acre of our property. I mean new everything from the floor joists to the roof top, the plumbing and electrical...EVERYTHING. We paid off what was left of our mortgage and started putting our little homestead together. Most of the work we did ourselves. We are not construction workers and this place needed a lot of work but we stuck to it. We had a dream, a plan. We had the property grated and put in our goat house and yard. Then we bought our milk does. Then the chicken coop. The garden and the fruit trees. It was summer in Arizona and it was hot but we just kept pushing forward.
Almost a year later and I can honestly say we are happier than we have ever been. This little 860 ft. mobile home with the travel trailer parked on the side for our adult daughters is the best place in the world for us. Every day I look out my kitchen window and I see my children playing. I see my goats, chickens and turkeys scratching around, the garden growing. Its everything I had hoped for. Because the cost to live here is so minimal  my husband no longer needs a high stress dangerous career. He can work any job he wants and do side jobs doing what he loves. We are better off financially. We honestly want for nothing. I no longer stress about paying bills or buying groceries.
Everyday for those five years I fantasized about moving back here, its all I talked about. I prayed about it and dreamed about it. I am a simple person who loves simple things, it doesn't take much to please me......A mobile home on a piece of land with a garden, some fruit trees, a few farm animals, my kids playing in the yard, the sun shinning in my kitchen window and the quietness at night looking at the stars with my family. That's all I need, that's all I want and as small and simple as it sounds it's actually everything. God is good. He was good from the beginning and he will still be good in the end. I deserve none of this and yet the Lord made a way and blessed me with all of it, everything and continues to bless me. Every laugh I hear from the the kids playing, every new sprout in my garden, every fruit tree that survives the desert heat, every meal I am able to place on the table for my family. Dreams do come true or maybe I should say prayers are answered.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Sweet Pepper Relish

I was gifted a box of sweet peppers from a family friend. Can't let a gift like that go to waste so I made sweet pepper relish. This will be good in potato and macaroni salads.

I found the recipe by googling Ball Sweet Pepper Relish. I always use the word Ball or USDA in front of my canning recipe searches to make sure I am using a tested safe recipe. This is what I found and the recipe I used.

  • 5 cups ground green bell peppers 
  • 5 cups ground red bell peppers 
  • 1-½ cups ground onion
  • 2-½ cups cider or white distilled vinegar (5%)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons pickling salt
  • 4 teaspoons mustard seed

I washed and cut the tops off of the Sweet Peppers. Because Mine was an assortment of colored peppers I didn't pay attention to color. I just cut the tops off and put them in my blender. I pulsed them until they were finely chopped and measured them out until I had a total of 10 cups. I did the same with the onion. I put them in a large pot and added the rest of the ingredients. Brought it to a boil for 30 mins. While it was boiling I prepared my jars and my water bath canner. Once the 30 minutes were up I filled my hot pint jars with the hot relish leaving a 1/2 inch head-space and debubbled. Put my lids and rings on and put them in the canner. Brought the canner back up to a boil and processed them for 15 min. 
If you want to try this I highly recommend it. Please click on the link and read the recipe and instructions provided. 

Here's the relish boiling away.

 And the finished product. I made 2 of this recipe and ended up 16 1/2 pints.

Monday, September 2, 2013

My Bill Binder ( how I stay on top of our finances)

I have a few binders that I use regularly. My Family Binder, My Kitchen Binder, My Farm and Garden Binder and my Bill Binder. I will make posts about all of these binders and how I make/use them in later posts. I want to start with my Bill Binder first.
My Bill Binder has been so helpful in creating and sticking to a budget. It is where my bills go as soon as they come in the mail and it's where I go on pay day when I am paying my bills. I know what is due and to who. I can make little notes like so and so's birthday is this month, or field trip on this date and what the cost is so I can remember to budget it in. All my expenses are written in there.
My go to place for organizational printables has always been Donna Young. She has amazing printables for homeschooling to.

Now lets build our Bill Binder.
First you will need a three ring binder. I like the ones with the clear plastic cover on the front so I can slide in a pretty print and label it my bill binder but any three ring binder will work. Some people like to cutsey theirs up, some like to keep it simple. It's up to you. I find it easier to do one of my least favorite chores if I can do it while looking a prettiness so I use washi tape and colored pens to decorate and write in my binder.
Next I add 2 folders with pockets. One is for paid bills and one is for bills that need to be paid. If I pay a bill online I can write the confirmation number on the bill and add it to the paid bill folder. Having my previous months bills available also lets me compare what we are spending month by month.
I also like to add a pencil pocket. I always write in my Bill Binder in pencil because I sometimes have to change when I will pay a bill or amounts. I also like to keep a highlighter in there, when a bill clears my bank I highlight it. This makes it easier to balance my account.
And finally I print out one page like the example below for each month of the year. (12 pages total) Just click the link below.
Donna Young month at a glance 
 (Update: these are no longer free on her site. She now requires a membership but you can find others like it for free just Google bill planner free printables)
I hole punch it and it goes into the binder as well. 
Now when I receive a bill it goes into the To Be Paid folder and I write it on the page for the month that it is due. 
Here is a sample of a page in my binder. 
Remember these are Donna Young's Printables.......Not mine. I have been using them for years and they are EXTREMELY helpful.