Dec 12, 2013

Week Three of the Great Kitchen Remodel

Well, week three has come and not much head way has been made.  We are kind of at a stand still waiting on some things.

My appliances have all arrived.
Stove and microwave have been installed.  Microwave is awesome.  All kinds of pre programmed settings for snacks and a kid's menu setting (chicken nuggets, hot dogs, French fries, frozen sandwich) as well as a snack setting (nachos, chicken wings, potato skins, cheese sticks).  My favorite is the soften/melt (for chocolate, butter, cream cheese) and the defrost.  Of course it has a popcorn (all though all the popcorn packages state to not use the preset timing), pizza, potato and veggie (love this for frozen veggies) sensor setting.  I am just glad to cook the kitchen once again.  I have the old microwave set up in the garage, but man is it cold out there.

Stove has been very disappointing. First of all, picked this particular model because it advertised a free griddle.  When it was delivered, no griddle, is a rebate you have to send in.  Personally, I think rebates should be illegal.  Way too much time to fill out the forms, give them all kinds of information then wait and hope that you actually get it.  I am waiting on one from Kitchen aid now.  Any way, back to the stove.  So then, after learning I have to send in a special form from Home Depot (would have been nice to have gotten it when I bought the unit instead of an extra trip to the store to find out why I didn't get it) we found out while installing the stove last night that the inside frame was damaged on both sides. 

Enough so that the door won't seal for the oven so keeping any type of even temperature is out of the question.  Also, the little storage drawer will not open correctly either so it totally useless.  I have taken the issue up with Home Depot store manager, who pretty much told me I was out of luck because I accepted it that way.  I explained that I questioned the delivery guy about the drawer not working, he just told me it was because it wasn't level.  Then I was told because it had been longer than 48 hours there wasn't much they could do.  I explained that we found it with the 48 hours, but that they were already closed.  He then took me to the appliance department to see if it could be repaired.  I didn't say anything, but really wanted to when the store manager asked me if the stove still worked properly.  He kind of changed his tune a bit when the appliance guy told him that since the door was unable to seal, because of the frame damage, the heat would escape and could possibly catch the cabinets on fire.  I had not thought of that, very scary thought.

Finally, after over an hour of discussion, Maytag is sending me a new unit to replace the broken one.  It will be here next week.  At least then I will be able to cook, although I have no place to prepare the food, no place to wash the dishes and no place to sit down and eat the food.

We also ran in to a little time delay regarding a problem with floor tile.  Had to redo and then redo again differently.  Just had to wait for it to all set up before walking or moving any appliances or cabinet bases on it.  So, that delayed our counter top measurement, which delayed the counter top.  However, maybe it was meant to be.  Here is why.

I have to have the faucet when they measure for the counter top. I had originally decided to go with a stainless steel faucet and sink.  Then I found this one, then found those cabinet knobs to match.  Then I found out that I could get a brown sink.  So...since we had to delay the measure appointment, I took it as a sign to go ahead and get the brown sink.  It cost a little bit more because the counter top people offered a free one with the installation.  When you look at the big picture, it really isn't that much more money considering what I have already spent.  So, now there is no way to have the new kitchen going by New Year's day, but soon after.

Now that the floor is fixed and the appliances are here, hubby can finish up the installation of the cabinets.  Was waiting for the stove and dishwasher to arrive so he could see how much room he would need.  Once the dishwasher gets put in place, the cabinet next to it that houses the refrigerator can then be moved in place and attached to the wall.  I am looking forward to all the cabinets being finally installed so that I can start loading the cabinets.
I spent the whole day yesterday just loading the pantry.  I have come down with a stupid chest cold on top of everything else.  As I loaded the new pantry, expiration dates were checked and any date passed or that will expire in the next month or so was discarded.  An inventory was made of all products on hand so that I can start menu planning again.  Plus, I also placed a couple of empty containers in the shelves for future use. I spent a small fortune in storage containers, guess I am turning anal in my old age because I wanted all the baskets to be white, all the plastic containers to have the same color lids.  Also, all the trays are the same color in each drawer, although not all the drawers are the same.  In the largest drawer, I have a mesh expandable organizer for cooking utensils.  In one drawer I put a bamboo expandable divider for all the silver ware.  The rest of the drawers have black containers to hold the rest of my cooking utensils, knives and snacks.

Now, today, I have to pick which drawer I want to designate for foil, plastic bags, wax paper and such.  Depends on how all the cookware goes, may place that stuff in a hall pantry.  Now starts the task of choosing what to keep and what to get rid of.  I still have plenty of cabinets, some deep drawers and such.  Once hubby gets the set of bottom cabinets attached to the wall tonight, I will be able to see how many pots and pans I will be able to store.  I have surfed the internet and found some great sites that suggest the essentials needed for a well stocked kitchen.  I mean really, I don't need 14 skillets, 5 sets of pots and pans, 6 glass baking dishes and so forth.  I really need to downsize a bit.  I not only have 30 years of married life collecting kitchen ware, my Pampered Chef items and I now have what is left of my mom's kitchen ware as well.  You see, that gives me about 4 sets of mixing bowls.  I don't really like my metal ones, but hubby likes to eat cereal out of them for some insane reason.  Then, once I get my kitchen all back together, I will be looking in to purchasing a glass front china hutch or curio cabinet to display some collectable glassware.  This would be so much easier if I wasn't a border line hoarder.

Well, enough of a break.  Off to see how many boxes I can empty out by loading the new cabinets.  Thanks for stopping by, come back soon to see how the great remodel is going.

Dec 9, 2013

MPM - 12/9 - 15 Week Two of Kitchen Remodel

Wow what a week.  Look back over the last few post to catch up with the new kitchen remodel.

Now, for Meal Plan Monday over at Organized Junkie.  I have to be honest, I have no menu plan for this week, here is why.  I don't have a kitchen at the moment.  I have tried to cook, really I have, even bought a fancy toaster over that is also a rotisserie cooker as well.  Still trying to decide if I am going to keep it though.  At any rate, the problem with cooking is not really the cooking part, it is the prep part and the fact that I would have to wash all the dishes in the bathtub which kills my back.  The sink will not be hooked up until after the counter tops are installed, which is about three more weeks at this point.  Which hits during the week of Christmas, so if they can't deliver by the 20th, they will have to wait until after the 30th. 

However, I do have the old microwave hooked up in the garage so can use it now, which does help. My new appliances are being delivered today.  Hubby promised to install the stove and microwave this evening.   Also, the new fridge as well, it will need to run a while before I start putting food in there.  Here are some photos of how we have progressed.
 There is actually a dining room table at the other end of these boxes.  It is loaded down with small appliances (can opener, coffee maker, toaster oven) absolutely no room for any prep work for a meal.
First, the cabinets all arrived.  All the boxes were stacked in my dining area.  What a mess trying to live around these boxes.  I am just thankful that it was only for the week.  Hubby was waiting for his days off.  I am so thankful for his willingness to be my labor and for him to have the skills to be my labor.  He has some installing of appliances, repair to floor tiles and paint touch up yet, but actually for the most part he is finished until the counter top is installed (installation was included in the price) which thankfully, Home Depot was having a sale on.
And, hubby decided to let me know how he felt about my taking a picture and the labor he is doing.

I would be more than happy to help, if I just knew what to do and how. AND...if he would let me.
Hubby was hard at work Saturday morning, putting doors back on.  Notice the space between the wall and the cabinets?  They listed it as a 3in. space, added in a filler piece.  This just shows that  they do not look at these computer generated design diagrams (the designers turn in a set for each customer's job) all that closely, because there is not 3 inches of space left so hubby is having to cut down the filler board.  There is one other wall that the same thing happened with.  Actually, the bottom set of cabinets I just told hubby to leave the filler out completely.  There is such a narrow amount of space left that we just moved the cabinets all the way to one end and just left a little space between the cabinet and the doorway.  The counter top will still come all the way to end so it won't be noticeable at all.
So, how many people does it take to work on a sink base?  Several when you find out your home's wall is bowed.  Actually, the man in the yellow is our next door neighbor, he is a construction contractor and kitchens and bathrooms are what he does for a living.  We were so very thankful that he gave up a little of his time and popped over to show hubby some pointers and help get through some rough spots.
My daughter's cat is checking it all out.  You would think that with two cats in the house there would be no mice.  Not so, we have one that the remodel forced to relocate, unfortunately it is in the wall of our bedroom and making it's presence known at all hours during the night and early morning.  I have no idea how we will be able to get rid of the thing.
Measuring to cut out the back of the cabinet for access to the plumbing and electrical outlets to install the sink, dishwasher, garbage disposal and water line for refrigerator.

I think it is coming along so nicely.  Now, today, I get to position the cabinet shelves where I want and can start loading the food in the new pantry and what ever I am locating in the upper cabinets as well.

I plan to go to Home Depot this afternoon and see if I can exchange the faucet I bought for a different that I think will look much nicer with the over all design.  I have to have the faucet here tomorrow when they measure for the counter tops, so if they don't have it in stock I will just keep the one I bought.  I even have decided on the knobs that I will be putting on the cabinets and have already purchased all the outlet plate covers as well.  Was very lucky there as I found some that totally match the wall color and the glass tile for the backsplash which all matches the counter top I ended up going with.

Check back in a few weeks for the finished kitchen. This is the old fridge, but I just love the new design of the kitchen.  You can check older postings for the before photos.  Yes, once we get the floor repaired, some paint touch ups, the lights put back, new appliances installed, the counter tops and back splash all installed.  NEW KITCHEN will be done.  I am hoping to christen the new kitchen with New Year's Day dinner.  Wish me luck.

Nov 25, 2013

Week 1

We officially started the remodel on Nov. 22 and have now reached a "sit and wait" phase.
 Can you see in the corner all that dead space that could be used for storage?  That is where the big corner lazy susan is going.
Starting pulling off the old tile to find that the builders had used cement board instead of wood for the base of the counter tops.  Very cheap way to go, makes a huge mess.  Even the cat had to explore.

Then, the old bar had to be removed.
 Yeah, it is finally gone.  Out of here.
And, no more cabinets. 
 Backsplash is gone, damaged sheet rock cut out, a couple of rodent nest removed, replaced worn out outlets and leaking pipes.  Moved some plumbing around as well.
Can you see the left corner empty spot.  Would seem that the builders did not have room to put sheet rock behind the tub enclosure.  That is the main bathroom on the other side of that wall.  Did the cat ever have a grand time popping in and out of there.   Also had the gas line moved over as the stove is moving to a more centered location to allow for more cabinets and counter space.

That was week one.  I doubt that I will ever get the dust out of the living room and dining room, but will keep cleaning away. 

Nov 22, 2013

Remodeling Kitchen

For years I have wanted to redo my kitchen.  I have over the years updated to stainless steel appliances, all by the over the stove microwave.  The original kitchen did not have one, only a range hood.  Did not have a dishwasher, we could tell where previous owners had cut out a cabinet and chipped out a little counter top to install one.  Refrigerators were  not so big back then either.  The house was built in 1985, which for house is not that old, not even vintage yet really.  But...for today's time and today's technology and the way I cook, the kitchen just didn't flow.  Dead space that could be utilized for storage, a big bar that while it gave counter space and storage, made the kitchen even smaller.  So, I came up with a design that gives me way more storage, larger counter top areas for working and opens up the kitchen more.

Here is the kitchen as it is now, we bought the house in August of 2000.
The cabinets under the bar are the only ones wide enough to hold pots and pans.  I have to literally sit down on the floor, crawl half way in to find a pan most times.  There is a door on the other side to get in to the space by the wall.  I also hate the old porcelain sink.  It is hard to keep clean as well.

 As you see, not a lot of counter top by the stove to use while cooking.  The bottom cabinet to the left of the stove goes all the way back, but they put a 9 inch door on it so you can not get anything much in there.  The dishwasher door will not open all the way down because of the handle on the stove.  And, the over the stove microwave is the last of the almond appliances that came with the house.  Notice the dinosaur  of a toaster attached to the bottom of the cabinet to the right of the stove?  It is literally a B@$#% to clean.

This is my pantry.  Big, but once again, to get to the bottom two shelves I have to sit down on the floor and do a little crawling.  I have to use a step ladder to get to the top two shelves. 

The one thing I do like about the bar is the pull out cutting board.  Have that covered in the new kitchen design.

This is the short wall the fridge is located on.  That little bit of counter space to the right ends up catching clutter.  Bags of chips, snacks, bottles of soda.  It is too small for much of anything else.
This is a view of the whole kitchen from the open end.  It looks like a lot of cabinets...until you start trying to put things away.  Also, we have this weird shelf above the kitchen.  Thankfully it gives the kitchen an extra three feet.  The kitchen measures 10 x 12 feet.
This also shows you the "china hutch".  I hate the thing.  It is small, hard to work in, the doors have to be taped shut because they won't close. Notice the big square ceiling light?  I hate it. 

Now you see the original kitchen.  Probably the cleanest it has ever been as well.  It does make you think 80's.  I also absolutely hate the tile counter top.  Even with my pastry rolling sheet, the grout still leaves marks and the tile is textured so is uneven. 

So, with much thought and the help of a wonderful design lady at Home Depot, I came up with a totally new design.  The fridge is moving to a different wall, the dishwasher is moving to the opposite side of the sink, a big lazy susan is going in the corner and the bar is history.  The pantry is also moving to a different spot to allow for counter top and cabinets by the stove.  Which, is moving a few inches over to make room for the lazy susan and a large set of drawers on the left side.

Now to get it started.

Nov 20, 2013

Cabinets All Empty

Major work, emptying the cabinets and finding temporary homes for everything in the kitchen.  Oh my, makes me feel that I have way too much food and cookware, plates and glasses.  Had an entire drawer full of condiment packets left over from eating out.  Am thinking that we do that way too much as well.

My little grand son, Mr. M, that I keep during the day was sure there still had to be some food in there somewhere.

Not to start pulling everything out and get ready for the new.

Nov 6, 2013

Oh My, It's November.

Well, October sure went by in a blink.  Not much of anything done to really be considered an accomplishment either.

On the other hand, some accomplishments have happened.  The kitchen remodel is paid for.  All the decisions on color, wood, counter top and design have been finalized. I am so excited and so ready to start emptying and tearing out cabinets.  I have had both grand babies several days this month so have not been able to get too much done as far as house work.

To top all that off, on Tuesday evening before Halloween my daughter, Miss Zebra, came home and informed me that she needed a priest or monk costume for the play this weekend and 100 cupcakes for Thursday morning.  So, being the great mom that I am, I spent Wednesday morning running around picking up ingredients for 100 cupcakes.  You know, mixes, powder sugar and Crisco for icing, paper baking cups, two more muffin pans so I could cook more at one time, decorations to put on cupcakes. Plus, since it was the day before Halloween had to go to two different shops to find the costume.  Then came home, ate lunch put Mr. M down for his nap and got started baking.
This is the first of three batches of white cakes, made one batch of chocolate.  Each batch was 4 dozen, but being the wonderful math wizard that I am, didn't realize when I was counting that 24 is actually 2 dozen, not 1 dozen.  I over cooked a bit.  I bought some white cardboard boxes to put the cupcakes in, each held 35 cupcakes.
I made the orange ones, daughter made pink. Those are molded candy melt bats.

I swirled these out as well. One row has caramel and sprinkles, then the caramel bag busted.

At 1:15am we flat wore out.  Our energy and ability just left.  We also ran out of icing and I was just not up to making a third batch of butter cream icing.  Really great tasting butter cream icing, if I do say so myself.  Now the bottom photo is the box Miss Zebra decorated, she has a thing for molded chocolate and made mummies, bats and jack o lanterns.  Not all of the molded decorations made it on to a cup cake.

Here is a little closer look.  We used the Wilton spray color, the yellow, silver, green and gold worked fine.  The purple and black not so well.   I can tell you this much, the Wilton cake decorating class that I took with Miss Zebra sure helped.  We didn't get as fancy or creative as we had originally planned, especially since reality of time sunk in, but we did a pretty good job.  I still have one box of cupcakes that have not been iced, but she took 3 boxes (35 in each box) so ended up with 105 cupcakes.  It was a food sale at school with the proceeds going to her school club.  I donated the ingredients and such for the cupcakes, would much rather spend $20 on something that they sell and get 100% of the earnings rather than buying a candle or cookie dough that is over priced and only gives them about 40% of what they make.

I bought a large star tip, thinking the larger tip would let me ice the cupcake quicker.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that instead of a rigged swirl it makes a swirl that looks a lot like a rose.
I love this tip, will be using it a lot more.  Maybe next time, make a little smaller swirl and add some leaves.  It all turned out any way.
This is Miss Zebra working.  About midnight she pulled the stool up to the counter.  OH HOW HAPPY I will be when the new kitchen is done and I have more counter top space for doing things like this.  It was really hard for both of us to work in there at the same time.  She set up there because that is where the microwave is.  I ended up moving to the dining table.

Along the lines of the kitchen, I bought a new gift for me.
Isn't it just so pretty.  It has a bowl lift which is supposed to be easier to add ingredients with, a quieter motor and a soft stir setting to help the ingredients mix together a little before starting a mixing cycle which helps keep the dust cloud down.
As you can see, it is a step up from I already had.  Which still works just fine.  I just wanted an upgrade and different color to liven up the new kitchen.  All my kitchen appliances are stainless steel so the grey would look good on the counter.  In fact, will be going back to Costco to buy the Kitchenaid 13 cup food processor as well.

Thanks for stopping in, come back soon.  Please feel free to leave a comment, it is always nice to know that some one out there reads this.

Nov 2, 2013

Buttermilk Pie - My mom's recipe

Scroll to bottom for the recipe if you want to skip the story behind the pie.
We have a family tradition, several actually, but one that is always kept is the making of Mom's Buttermilk Pie.  She would make about six of these pies up in the summer and then freeze them for the holidays.  Some times it would be enough, most times not.  Life has a way of changing it's course and running along new directions which really tend to make the new voyage a bit apprehensive until one manages to get a new set of landmarks that then become familiar enough that the traveler can once again navigate the road.  One such journey is age.  My mom was living alone and after thinking it over she decided she would let us move her to the town we live in so she could be closer to me.  This is a woman that was strong enough to leave everything she knew, for the last 30 years or so, behind and starting over in a new home, new town, new people all around.  Her last few months of that journey was spent living in a bedroom in my home before she peacefully went on her final journey.  But, some memories, some traditions, just keep on going because they are a comfort to those who grew up with them.  This pie is one.

Now, as I go older and found the internet, and then Google, I had occasions to do a search for this recipe.  I am notorious for not being able to keep up with a recipe card, a written piece of paper, or even the local church cookbook that thankfully has Mom's recipe printed in it.  I was not really surprised at all the versions of this pie, you know the only thing different is in the ratio of the ingredients.  I was however surprised to discover that this is a southern dish.  I grew up thinking every one had buttermilk pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My brother in law, a Texas native, Hispanic in ethnicity, had never heard of this pie when he joined the family.  He went crazy over it, once he tasted it.  Funny how the word buttermilk turns so many people off.  Now we live in California and my youngest two children have made it there personal mission in life to introduce this sweet dish to as many people as possible.  I was quite shocked to find that of all the searches I ever did, I never came across a recipe like mom's, which was passed down from her family.  I had actually come to the conclusion at one point that my Aunt Vera must have given her the recipe and just left out a few ingredients (which she was famous for, that way you could not duplicate her dish exactly as she makes it) but I was never able to find out just which side of the family that recipe actually came from.  Mom's recipe has no salt and no flour.  I believe that the German Amish roots is where it comes from, but pure speculation on my part.  At any rate, Mom's recipe works, everyone loves it, so why try and change it?

For those who don't know, have never heard of it, never tried it, buttermilk pie is a custard or chess type pie.  Don't let the word buttermilk scare you off either.  While some of my worst tasting memories are of my dad pouring me buttermilk in a glass instead of regular milk, in a recipe buttermilk imparts a rich creamy sweet taste that is actually low fat.  My parents were born in the 20's, lived through the great depression, and both lived in the country.  That generation of those type of people grew up drinking buttermilk.  My dad grew up in West Texas, ate anything that they could grow or get cheaply.  His dad was a farmer, not a very successful farmer as he had was would be termed "wonder lust" as he liked to move around a bit.  My mom grew up in South Texas, near Victoria, her dad raised turkeys. They also always had a few steers, hogs and chickens they raised for personal use as well as a big vegetable garden.  Her only experience with moving was during each school year as she would live with one of two sisters each school year and then summers back with her dad.  They lived too far from the local school for her to attend, she came a long late in life so the sisters were all much older than she was and her mother passed away when she was about 2 years old.  Now that you have had the history lesson behind this dish, here is the recipe.  It is still made, by me, for all holidays, big family meals or just when one of the kids wants some fork fed comfort.

Mom's Buttermilk Pie
Makes one pie

1 pie crust, unbaked (deep dish works well)
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 stick good grade oleo, melted
3 eggs, added whole and mixed well
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (if desired)

Blend buttermilk, sugar, and oleo.  Add eggs whole and mix well.  Add remaining ingredients except cinnamon.  Pour in to unbaked pie crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until firm.

Oleo is the same as margarine - definitely use a good brand for this.  It does make a difference - do not use butter.

Preheat the oven.  Watch the pie, it is easy to brown the crust too much.

In my opinion, eggs are getting smaller, so make sure you have 3 good size (like x-large) eggs.

The cinnamon is gently sprinkled on top before putting in the oven, can be left off.  We like it with.

If you use a spoon to sprinkle a bit of sugar across the top of the pie it makes a nice little crispy layer that my kids seem to like.  I have make it both ways.


Oct 9, 2013

Fall, Football, Cakes...Craziness!

Hello all.  I have been so busy lately that I have really neglected menu planning.  It shows in the household too.  I have been making more clutter and mess than I am getting cleaned up.  Oh well, nothing but a thing I guess.  I will eventually get my house totally clean, fixed just like I like it, meals planned, projects finished, and then just fall over dead from shock.

I will once again will...hook up with Organizing Junkie and link this post to her Meal Plan Monday.  Great place to get some ideas.  I am doing my meal plan a little differently for a while. So here is what is cooking this week.

Ground beef, round steak, chicken, pork chops and steaks with various side dishes.

I know you are thinking that this is not a plan, but it is.  Let me explain.  By the end of the week I will have finalized plans for the grand kitchen remodel, in other words will have paid the money and it will be starting.  I have for months gone back and forth over cabinet style and color, countertop material and color, paint color, tile color.  It is now time to put it all together in a contract and get it going.  So...this means that I will be cooking out of my pantry in an attempt to downsize my inventory so that I will have less to deal with when I have to empty out all the cabinets so we can demo the current cabinets and counter top.  I have no idea what to do with all of my kitchen stuff while we are in the middle of this, or just how I am going to cook even.  But it will SO BE WORTH IT.  I will post photos along the way of course.

In fact, one set of cabinets is going to have clear glass in the door so that I will be able to put my collection of mom's glassware in there to be stored and still show off a little.  Some of her crock bowls as well.  I have a hall storage closet that I am working on emptying out so that I can put some food stores in there along with the every day pots and pans. All the extra stuff, that isn't used every day, along with all my cookbooks and small red appliance collection will go to the storage unit.  When we are completely finished, I will just bring back a box at a time and see just how much I can actually get rid of.  I mean I need 18 coffee a house that only one person drinks coffee and he has his travel mug that he uses?  No I don't.  Do I need 7 glass pie plates?  No, but 4 or 5 where my mom's.  Do I need 5 sets of mixing bowls?  No, but one is from my grandmother that I never knew and one can be put up for youngest daughter Miss Zebra for when she gets her first apartment.  The other three...I have to admit, I do use them regularly, depending on what I am making.

Speaking of Miss Zebra...we finished up our Wilton Basic Cake Decorating Course 1.

This is her cake for the final class.  I think she did extremely well.  Even if she did jack my denim blue icing. I know the photos are kind of yellow tinted, but that is what my kitchen does to things for some reason. In fact, Miss Zebra was so proud of herself that she has now approached her school club leader to have a bake sale for their fundraising. She has offered to make decorated cupcakes...10 dozen...lots of cupcakes.  Pretty sure I will end up helping to finish them up.  At least cupcakes ice our quickly.
This is mine.  We were late getting to class because Miss Zebra had play rehearsal so the instructor asked another student to let me use her icing for the border.  I had a terribly time with crumbs on these two cakes for some reason.  At any rate, that course is done and Monday we start course 2 which is gum past and fondant.  Am really looking forward to that one.

Got to go meet for another design session for the kitchen.  Wish me luck.  Thanks for stopping by and come back soon.

Sep 24, 2013

Good Intentions - Yeah Right.

I really did have the best of intentions.  Long about Thursday or so I keep thinking that I need to get my menu plan for the week done.  I start looking over Facebook, Pinterest and various blogs for inspiration, which I get, and by the time I figure out a few things to cook it is 2 in the morning.  Then, something inevitably comes up over the week end that seems to prevent me from putting that illusive menu plan on paper.

This past week end for example.
We kept the youngest grand babies so that our son and daughter-in-law could have a little anniversary trip over the week end.  Obviously with a two year old and a two month old in the house, my attention was better spent on other things as opposed to menu plans.

Along with all of this, I did get started cleaning out kitchen cabinets.  My pantry just absolutely looked bare once I got it cleaned out and organized up.  I had to go get a few groceries, just couldn't stand it any longer.  I then started on the other cabinets, trying to force myself to purge as much as I possibly can...regardless of sentimental attachments.  Actually, once I cleaned out some clutter (plastic cups, glass jars) I am amazed at how much room I am finding.
See that little open cabinet in the the left of the stove?  That is my biggest peeve with the kitchen.  Storage space I cannot use well.  That little cabinet door has a opening of 9 inches.  NINE inches.  The storage space is 24 inches door to wall and 36 inches from stove back to other wall.  Yes you get the picture.  Huge space, all of this plastic ware was stuffed up in there, along with about a half dozen glass jars.  Not to mention I found a single serve blender, complete with travel lid so I can take that healthy smoothie with me, still in the plastic wrap.  I hate the new trend of green smoothies.  Rave about it all you want, but throwing some spinach and avocado together with ice cubes, flax seed oil and fruit, does not make a tasty drink.  Un uh, no way.  There is also a brand new in the box mix and go battery powdered gizmo that makes drinks using protein powder.  Do we use protein powder?  No, hot hardly.  But this is the type of crap I find lurking around the house.  The harder part is the bake ware and glasses.  Some of them I got for a wedding gift, just can't seem to make myself let go of them.  I know, if it has a chip in it then it is dangerous.  I am working on it.  At any rate, the cabinets all have to be cleaned out so I know what I have, before the remodel starts.

Speaking of the great hasn't even started yet.  I have gone through several layout designs, and have finally settled on one that I believe will give me all I want from the kitchen.  Plenty of storage, should say useable storage, flows easier, and more room.  Just a few final decisions remain.  One being whether or not I will get a stove or built in range and oven.  I would like to upgrade to five burners, and if we go with the built in's that will change counter space and lay out a bit.  Also have a wall that I am wanting to open up a little bit by putting a pass thru counter top that could function as additional sitting for a eating, or just as a space to prep dishes.  Would also be where we put the food out when there is a big family meal.  We kind of eat buffet style for most meals.  Every one fills their own plate and then sits at the table to eat.  I am really excited about finally get to make this kitchen not only look better but function better for my type of cooking.  I am no where near what would be considered gourmet or chef style, I cook home style meat and potatoes type of dishes.  But...I would like to be able to chop my onions and such close to the stove, not have to set something on a bar at the other end of the kitchen to cool.  No, the kitchen is not that large, only about 12 x 10.  Am hoping to increase that about six inches on the length part by moving things around. My hubby was going to do a quick fix job to the RV and then clean out the garage so we would have a place to work on things or put things while we worked.  Then we could start removing the existing kitchen.

HOWEVER...some lazy little ass wipe stole his pick up last week.  Now, he is having to work on a little truck that wasn't running to see if he can get it going to drive back and forth to work in.  Effectively putting the kitchen remodel pushed back about two weeks.  Or more.

My daughter and I are taking cake decorating classes together.  I am not really interesting in the first part of the courses, but you have to take them in order to do the course on gum paste and fondant, which I would really love to learn.  Daughter is however extremely excited by all of it.  For an early birthday present I bought her the Wilton deluxe kit, got to use a 40% off coupon which made it even better.  It was expensive, but the best value in the long run because it has all the equipment needed for all four courses and then some, plus a big tote to carry it all. 

This is my class work from last night.  Flowers on cupcakes.  Their was a slight mishap with the carrier, so a couple of them are squished.  Now, I don't have any grand designs or plans for becoming a paid cake decorator on the side, that's for sure.  I was talking to a lady that now has her own cake business that she runs from her house.  She has a booth at the local farmer's market where she sells cupcakes, cake pops and the cakes in the push pop things.  She has cookies and brownies as well.  He stuff was nice, but not a WOW kind of thing.  I am sure that what she does on special orders would be.  She was talking to my daughter and  I about how taking the classes got her started.  My daughter mentioned that she likes decorating and has the patience for it, I mentioned that it drives me crazy to take so long decorating one cake.  The cake lady then told us that it takes about three days to do a small wedding cake.  I am not going to spend three days to decorate some cake, not even for my own daughter's wedding.  Well, unless she asks me to when the time comes.  I just want to take cute cupcakes to the church carnival, for my turn at bible study, a nice birthday cake for a family member's birthday or holiday.  That is all.  I just don't want to spend $20 dollars for a dozen cupcakes that only have a fancy swirl on top.  Or, $3.50 a piece for some rich decadent little cupcake that I can make myself.    As you can see by the photo, I have a lot of practice to do.  But the main thing, the one thing I hadn't really considered, was how good it feels to just spend a little time with my daughter.  Just the two of us doing something together.  You should see the way her face, her whole face, lights up when she clicks with something the instructor has shown her.

Next week is a cake.

As for the budget plan, it has worked fairly well so far.  The last few weeks was pretty tough, only because my youngest son, Joe College, has been staying with us over his school's summer break.  He and his cat.  They went home, back to college, last night.  Now, as soon as I can finish up some major cleaning projects, my house is back to being my own.  Don't get me wrong, I love having my son here, would even be fine if he had to live here again.  It is just that with the grand baby, I had gotten in to our comfortable little routine.  Then came the baby (his sister and a girl), his mom went on maternity leave about a week before the birth.  We went on this huge vacation, expensive vacation, worth every penny too. So, things are now finally feeling like things are ready to settle down.  My daughter's cat is going through mourning and depression...running around here trying to find to find him.  At least now I can clean up and the creator of massive hair balls, wads of hair, every where.  Not to mention the worst litter box there ever was.  But hey, at least it was in a litter box.

I have got to get something to eat in me, I am literally dozing off as I type.  Thanks for stopping by and check in with me a few weeks.

Aug 26, 2013

Meal Plan Monday - 8/25

Well, first week of school is behind us.  I am back in daycare mode as well.  Now, here it is time to plan the menu again.  One of these days I am going to get about 8 weeks worth created so I don't have to do it each week.  It is not really hard, I just am in such a blue mood lately I just really don't want to do anything but sit and watch television or play computer games.

As for Menu Planning, I was a hundred percent successful, but made it closer than I have before.  Monday and Wednesday I actually cooked.  Tuesday was a  very last minute trip to Red Robin and Thursday I ended up taking all the kids to Olive Garden.  Friday was as planned, the meal was a hit with the group.  Saturday was just a crazy kind of day so we ended up just eating what ever at home. Sunday we made the Beer Butt chicken, had hubby cook two of them so that I have chicken cooked to make some casseroles and such this next week and then some for the freezer for later.  He was about to throw away the carcasses after cutting the chickens apart and I grabbed them and bagged them for the freezer to use making some chicken noodle soup later in September.  Nothing goes to waste any more around here.  I also made some Garlic Red Ranch Potato, my own recipe, and you know it is good when hubby makes the effort to walk down the hall to tell me, and I quote, "those are the best potatoes I have ever had by far".
This will be pulled off the bone and bagged. Carcasses and bones will be cooked for stock that I will jar up and put in the freezer.
Beer butt chicken, garlic new potatoes and coleslaw.

Menu planning!  Once again I will link up with Organized Junkie to link to her post for Meal Plan Monday.  Looking through my pantry, I see that I am LOADED down with tortillas, corn and flour.  I am not sure how this happens, but ever so often it does.  Part of this overload of tortillas is from going on vacation though as we seem to brought home more than we took.  At any rate, I told hubby that we will have to have lots of Enchiladas and casseroles with tortillas in them.  Knowing that the flavors of Tex-Mex food will get old quick, I will probably just try to freeze some of them for later on.

On the Menu this Week.

M - Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta Casserole
T - Baked Chicken Chimichangas
W - Easy Western Meal
T - Seafood Enchiladas
F - Indiana Chowder
S - French Bread Pizza - Stouffer's brand bought at Costco, because I want it out of the freezer.
S - C.O.R.N. smorgasbord

We also hosted the Dinner for 8 group we belong to from our church.  This is a group of four couples, ranging in age, and we meet once a month to socialize.  Each couple takes a turn hosting.  I am hoping that this is also the before and after view for my kitchen with them as the plan is to have the new kitchen done by the time we host again.  PRAYING that it happens any way.

Have also put on my budgeting hat. I am going to cut the obscene amount of frivolous spending I do down as much as possible.  To do that, on Monday I am starting a spending and food journal, writing each every thing I buy and eat.  One, it will make me accountable for both.  Another reason, I feel that some of my physical issues may be due to food allergies or sensitivity.  When I have really bad days and especially nights, I can go back and look to see if I ate anything that was in common for those days.  You know, did I load up on wheat products, milk maybe, or processed foods or sugars.  I need to loose weight and am paying for a gym membership for my daughter and I that we aren't using and that needs to change.  

Hubby and I wanted to help out our kids a little bit, so we went to Costco, had a coupon for Huggies brand diapers, good for $6 a box off, up to 2 boxes, and bought a box of size 1 and 5 for the grand babies. The coupon is good to the end of the month, so am going to go back and get two more boxes while I can still get the savings.  Only, this next time will get a box of size 2 and 5.  Little Miss C is growing and will be going in to the next size very soon.  Her last doctor visit they switched her over to soy based formula, going to buy some of that tomorrow to give to them tomorrow as well. 

I cleaned like crazy Friday, guess what I found...a bedroom in all of that mess.  A really nice large bedroom.  Still have a ton of clothes to put away, two tons of wash to do, but it is getting there.  I should have gone to the grocery store and to the farmer's market on Saturday, but I just stayed home and lazed out.  I must be really out of shape because two days of cleaning, one evening of hosting a party completely wore me out. Also, my pantry, fridge and freezer are so loaded that I would not be able to get anything new in it.  On the good side of that, I have plenty of food to work with.

Thanks for stopping by and come again soon for a visit.

Aug 19, 2013

Meal Plan Monday - 8/19/13

Hello all,

I am back...I think anyway.  Things have been so crazy around here, you can read about it on my past postings. In a nutshell, I had dental work that went wrong (still having trouble with my jaws and it has been over 2 months), my oldest grand son came to visit us, my first grand daughter made her appearance, we left for a huge vacation, took oldest grand son home to Texas, got home and slowly, very slowly, trying to get caught up.

My youngest daughter, Miss Zebra, starts her senior year of high school today.  It is kind of bitter sweet.  I know I am supposed to be all sad that my baby is growing up and all, but she is the youngest of four.  In a way, it is feeling like it is kind of time for her to be grown up.  She will be home with us for a few years though, she will live her while she goes to college to be a nurse.

So, trying to get back in to the groove so to speak, I am working on menu plans. It just makes life roll along so much smoother.  I will be linking up to Organized Junkie to post on Menu Plan Monday.  Because I have no idea which days I will have the baby too, and because it is still so hot, I am planning a lot of meals for the crock pot.  Much cooler, don't have to really keep to close of an eye on it, easy clean up and I can get it all prepped and going before I get little ones.  I am in a good shape for cooking as I am really stocked as far as meat and pantry, not too many fresh veggies, but will get what I need as the week goes.  Well, here goes, this is what is on the menu for this week.

M. - Crock Pot Homestyle Chicken & Noodles - New recipe.
T. - Beef Stroganoff, green beans and carrots. - Using left over roast.
W. - Crocktober - All in One Crock Pot Meal - New recipe.
Th. - Baked Chicken Chimichanga - New recipe.
F. - Hosting dinner group - Steak, baked potato, salad and ice cream.
S. - Will be something quick and easy - grocery day, farmer's market too.
S. - Beer can chicken, grilled potato packs, salad.

Monday's recipe, I am cutting in half, although I am not to sure how to half a can of soup. Friday we host the dinner group from church.  Hubby wanted to grill steaks as kind of an end of summer dinner.  Here, it is by no means the end of summer though. Sunday, will cook two chickens, one for our meal and one for left over meat for casseroles.

Here in the town we live, I recently found out a company called the Grapery that has their product available at a local bakery shop called Sweet Surrender.  They have developed a couple of new types of grapes that are just out of this world.

These really do taste like Cotton Candy.  They are nice and big, plump and juicy with a really sweet flavor.  I don't know how they do it, all done with breeding, but they are wonderful.  Of coarse I just love cotton candy.  My oldest son doesn't like them, he said that when he bites in to a food it should taste like that food. LOL  I like the unique fruits though, apples that taste like grapes and such.  But honestly, these really are in my opinion out of this world good.

These are a mix of two breeds, and called Witch Fingers.  They are just a really flavorful grape, reminds me of Thompson grapes that we used to grow when I was young.  Maybe a little like the Red Globe as well.  The shape makes one think peppers, and to me that is what they look like, little chili peppers but they are sweet.

Also, really praying that by the end of the month we will start the kitchen remodel.

This is the before view.  Hopefully it will all be gone soon and my new kitchen will be born in it's place.  As I said, I can't wait.

Thanks for stopping by, come visit often.