Monday, September 28, 2015


Today I turned 27!  A birthday is a good time for reflection and being thankful, so that's what I thought I'd share with you today.

Some people, the older they get, worry about their age.  Each birthday is dreaded, and they don't like telling others their age.  I don't feel that way, at least not yet.  I don't see anything wrong with being a year older.  Sure, there are a few things I wish I could change- my weight, those small wrinkles popping up, being able to scarf down a Baconator and large fries without worrying what it will do to me.  Despite those things, I am content.

This is a big deal for me, because I have always been one to miss the past or yearn for the future. Even though there are hard things in my life, I can honestly say that I am happy where I am.  I love our little family, consisting of my husband and our two silly puppies.  There are things I don't love about our apartment complex, but I love our cozy apartment.

I am thankful to have my family close, and my husband's family pretty close too.  It has been a blessing to develop a friendship with my mother and mother-in-law.  I don't have a ton of friends, but the ones I have are true friends, and will be there for me no matter what.

Of course there are things I look forward to in the future, and I will continue to dream and plan.  But I love just where I am right now.    

Friday, September 25, 2015

Our First Freezer Cooking Day

My mom, sister, and I decided to start freezer cooking about once a month.  All of us need quick week night meals that will prevent us from eating out, which is both healthier for our bodies and our wallets!

I have read many, many blog posts about freezer cooking.  So I thought I had done the appropriate level of research.  But apparently there is always more to learn.  

First, we started with our plan.

Instead of trying a bunch of recipes that we had never had before, we went with a few tried and true family favorites that would freeze well.  We planned out our grocery list, then a plan of attack!

*Here is where we learned that you can't plan to make multiples of 9 meals in one day! It's way too much going on at once.  Instead, it would be easier to make several of only 3 or 4 meals. 

Here is our lofty list!!! We didn't get all of it accomplished. But what we did do, went well!

Here's the french fries that we made:

The veggie cutter that my mom had
definitely came in handy! So much
quicker than by hand

The cut potatoes!

Next we partially cooked the fries in oil.

Then let them drain and cool.
After they cooled, we placed them
on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper
and popped them in the freezer.
Once they were partially frozen
and wouldn't stick to each other,
we put them in a freezer zip lock bag.
Once we are ready to use them,
just preheat the oven, and pop them
in to crisp up. I added a little cooking
spray to mine to help get extra crispy.
So good!!!

While the potatoes were going, we also browned ground beef, and cut and cooked onions.

We have a whole beef in the freezer and
it's so nice to have fresh beef whenever
you want it! Much cheaper too.
We cooked the meat and put into
freezer bags to make quick
spaghetti or tacos.
Those skills I learned from my stint
at the Art Institute's culinary program
pays off.

After cooking the onions til soft, we
set aside what we needed for the recipes
and put the rest in quart size freezer bags
to use in future recipes.
Next, cooking our homemade spaghetti sauce.  My mom has always made her own spaghetti sauce, no Ragu for us!  This proved a challenge for making it in a large quantity, because she doesn't have a recipe! It's a little of this, some of that kind of thing.  But we kept track of the amounts that were going in so we can replicate it in a large quantity again. 

We decided to freeze some of the sauce,
and can the rest of it.  We did not add
the ground beef into the sauce, so
it only needed a water bath to can.

Next was Chicken Parmesan:

Grated Parmesan. Much better
than the canned stuff!
Fresh mozzarella! Yum.

The finished product! We also made homemade
marinara sauce. So easy and tastes wonderful.

*In the future, we will use shredded mozzarella
because it got a little watery after frozen then thawed.
Another thing will be to not pre-cook the chicken breasts
as they got a little overcooked and tough.
Lastly, we made chicken spaghetti!

Because it was near the end, this is the
only picture I got! This is smoked chicken
that my dad smoked for us the day before.
Added such great flavor!!!

Also not pictured, was the "Bisquick mix"
that we made.  All you do is add eggs and milk
for pancakes, or just milk for biscuits.  Super easy.
So, that's about it! Like I said, next time, we won't plan so many different meals, but stick to a few, or ones that have similar ingredients.

Have you experimented with freezer cooking before? What do you think?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Passion Planner Review

I apologize for those of you who have been eagerly awaiting my blog, clicking the refresh button every 5 seconds in hopes of a new post appearing. I promise I will do better about posting.

So, as most of you know, I am pretty much addicted to planning and organizing.  And all things office supply.  So I was pretty stoked to find that Passion Planner had their academic calendars for 50% off! I can't resist a deal.

So far, I am loving it.  I went to Walmart yesterday and bought a set of Papermate Inkjoy colored pens.  I am all about some color coding!  I love the Sharpie pens that I was using with the printed planner I made, but I read a review saying that the Sharpie pens would bleed through the Passion Planner, and we can't have that happening.

This planner is more than just a planner; it's meant to incorporate elements of a journal, sketch pad, and goal worksheet.  I have yet to fully utilize it all, because it just came yesterday! But here's a sneak peek.

Monthly View
Notice my color coding guide!
Blank weekly view.
There's space to write everything down by time each day.
It goes from 6 am-11pm
Here's the current week I have started filling out.

At the end of each month, there is space to journal about your month.
What was good, what was bad, what to improve, new goals, etc.

Have you ever used a Passion Planner?  What planner are you using that you love?