Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fun, Fast, Fruit Salad

Once a week Sunshine and I attend a local homeschool coop. It gives her some extra classes during the week, time with friends, and I get to connect with other moms who homeschool. This particular week we had a potluck lunch. I had signed up for a couple of items. One of them was a fruit salad. I forgot to go the the store the night before and so this is what I came up with the morning of. 


Frozen mixed berries
2-3 Yoplait blueberry yogurt cups
1 small can pineapple
1 small can mandarin oranges
2 small apples cut cup
3 Tbs powered sugar
1/2 tub cool whip

I first put the yogurt in a bowl then added the powered sugar. I add the sugar because I know the berries are a bit tart. I then add the cool whip and get it all mix in together.

I drain the oranges and pineapple and peel and cut up the apples. These along with the berries all go in to the yogurt mix. I cover and let it set in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
This was really easy and yummy. Any fruit on hand would be delicious and my guess is, just about any flavored yogurt would work too. You could even add marshmallows and coconut if you wanted. I like the fact that I was able to use what I had in the house! Do you have a favorite fruit salad you like to make? Please share!

 linking up at:Faith filled food for moms 

Friday, March 28, 2014

It all started with a box (part 2) journey into my own home business

"Sunshines" 1st birthday cakes: baby jungle theme
2nd birthday party: Minnie Mouse theme
I am still looking for Sunshine's 3rd birthday picks: it was My Little Pony theme

4th birthday party: Princess theme 

We lost the pictures on the camera to her 5th birthday: it was Tom and Jerry theme

6th birthday party: Dolphin theme

From my post here I ended with discussing the recent conversation of "you should do this for people" It got me really thinking and praying. I have been asking the Lord for quite a while about work that I could do from home. I currently work three part time jobs outside the home and with the help of my mother-in-law, homeschool our daughter. Someday I will do a post on how that all works. Add in co-op, 4H, church ministries and all that goes in to keeping a home; my plate is full and I don't believe this is sustainable for me... for us. My heart is for being at home and homeschooling our daughter. But I also need to help contribrute to the budget area. We have become as frugal as they come and we have zero debt besides our home, but things are still tight! I have tried other work at home opportunities that I loved. But they just weren't the best fit for our family. So what else Lord, what can I do?...

In the process of praying and figuring this whole thing out I came across something I read somewhere- to write down what you love, what you are passionate about, what makes your heart soar. I wrote down several things and the funny thing is party designing/planning was not on the list. Creating was but not "party creating". In fact I was in the middle of checking some other opportunities out, when it was again said to me "you know, you should do this"... and the idea hit me. Then the name came: Singing Honey Bee Designs. My name Melissa means honey bee and creating makes my heart sing (and I love to sing too). So with my husbands blessing and lots of prayers I am going on this journey of starting my own kid's birthday party design/planning business. I hope to share with you here the in's and out's, trials and errors of starting a new home business and all the fun parties to come! I am excited, scared, nervous, and did I say excited- about all of this!

What about you? Have you or are you starting your own home business? Please share!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to save money on chicken

With the crazy prices of food how is one able to stock up the freezer and still have money for other needed gas for the car? Well one way that I have found is to buy my chicken in bulk. A couple of our local grocery stores will sell a bulk box of chicken breasts several times a year. 

This is it:

A 40 lbs box of chicken breasts. I usually will get it unfrozen and I am able to get it ready for the freezer right away. This time I got it frozen so I am having to let it thaw a bit before I can process it. For the entire box it is $59.60 (before tax) which makes it $1.49 a pound. It is a great deal. 

And as you can see, they are big portion sizes. For our family of 3 two breasts this size will more than feed us at any one meal. The first thing I do is get my supplies ready. I pre-cut a stack of freezer paper and grab the masking tape and permanent marker. I then cut the meat in half and trim off extra pieces of fat. For our family I wrap 2 chicken breasts in each freezer paper package. When I am all done I feel like I have been in a butcher shop. So I then disinfect everything really good. When the mess is cleaned up I happily take multiple trips to the freezer in the basement to fill it up! 

This is my third time getting a box of chicken like this. The meat is good and I have never had it go bad before I can use it all up. If you are local the stores I have gotten these from are here and here if you are not local I would call around to your local wouldn't hurt to ask.
What are some ways you save on meat?

linking up at:Faith Filled Food For Moms

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Chicken Enchiladas

I found this recipe on Pinterest, I got the full instructions from here
This was easy and very delicious to make and I was able to adapt it to what I have on hand as well as our taste buds.

2 cups shredded chicken
6 flour tortillas
1 can chicken broth
1 small can green chillies
1/2 can of diced tomatoes
3/4 cup of sour cream
3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs flour
1 cup shredded cheese
garlic seasoning to taste

The first thing I did was shred the chicken and seasoned a bit then mixed in some cheese to the shredded chicken. I used what cheese I had on hand 1/2 havarti and half colby. I then placed some of the chicken mixture on the flour tortillas, folded and placed fold side down into a greased baking pan. I continued until pan was full.
Then I melt the 3 Tbs of butter into a sauce pan on medium heat. When it is melted I add the 3 Tbs of flour and stir to mix the flour in. I then let it cook for 1 minute.

I then add 2 cups of chicken broth and let it thicken on med-low heat. Once it has thickened I added the sour cream, chilies, and crushed tomatoes. Pour over the the enchiladas, top with the rest of the cheese and bake for about 20-25 minutes on 350 degrees. When finished baking turn on broiler for 1-2 minutes to finish melting the cheese. Enjoy!

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Friday, March 21, 2014

What I have learned from a lifelong marriage

One of my sisters does in home care for an elderly woman. I go twice a week to help out, I call myself the relief care giver and it gives my sister a day off. I am learning a lot and this sweet lady is a joy to care for. We spend many times just sitting side by side singing the old Hymns which many times turns into true worship.

She is married to a gentleman who has been a volunteer pastor for the past 16 years. I don't know a whole lot about their life together, but what I know, is enough to keep me married the rest of my life to my husband. Let me share with you what their marriage has taught me.

Watching him care for her day in and day out month after month with no end in site has amazed me. Watching him has shown me what true devotion, loyalty, care and love is. Watching him has shown me what it means to provide your very best for the betterment of someone else. Watching him has shown me what it means to keep your promise "for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness or health, til death do us part".

I know it is not in his own strength that he does this, Jesus is with both of them every step in this part of their journey together. And it is beautiful to witness.

I have learned a huge life lesson from her too. There is a chance that maybe someday my memory won't be what is was... I will forget things and people. I will lose the enjoyment of all the big and little things in life. There may even come a time when I won't ask about my children. There may be a time when the only things that matter to me is "Can I go with Jesus?" "Can you take me home?" and "Where is my husband?" oh and this one... "You love me and I love you, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck." that one always makes me smile!

But it is this question that really got me evaluating my life: "where is my husband?" She enjoys others' company as best she can but the one person she doesn't want to be without the one she always asks for is her husband.... I want that.

I am reminded that in all of the business of life (working outside the home, homeschooling, raising a daughter for the Lord, running a household, ministry, etc) I need to remember that other than the Lord, my husband should be on my mind the most. I need to remember to take steps during the days, weeks and years to grow closer to him. To be his helpmeet. I have a little joke with him sometimes when I say "Oh honey, lets grow old together!" But now I think of that in a more serious manner. Because at the end of our journey I want him to matter to me and me to him more than ever. Seeing their marriage makes me want to be so much better for my husband. It makes me want to strive to be devoted and loyal and love him the best I can. It makes me fall on my knees again asking God to change me- to change my heart, because I know I cannot change in my own strength. And the end of my life I want to have loved him well.

Today marks their 66th wedding anniversary. May God bless their marriage! I am thankful to have had the privilege of seeing a glimpse of what a godly lifelong marriage looks like.

Linking up at: Faith Filled Food For Moms

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

It all started with a box...

A Valentine box that is. Sunshine's new favorite animal is the baby black panther. Did you know that a black panther is just a jaguar that is born black? Did not know this until we watched Wild Kratts on PBS. Anyways she loves them and after I helped her make this valentine box for her co-op class party she informed me that she wanted a baby black panther birthday party. WHAT!?
This is the conversation that ensued: "No Sunshine not that for a party theme. Not black! Not black frosting and black party decor. No way!" "I thought you wanted a pony party?" "Well now I want this party, mom!" "Pretty Please!!!!!" Then she, in her first grade hand writing, hands me a letter stating how much she loves/wants a baby black panther party. She wins, after all she did do extra credit in handwriting practice (music to this homeschooling mom). So a mom that loves to create fun parties for their child gets to work. I ended up coming up with what amounts to baby black kitty party. I had intentions of printing more baby panther photos and adding them to the decor but my printer decided to go on strike. So this is what we ended up with and she loved it.

I knew that I would be using lots of black but I did find the cute pink and purple leopard print items at Walmart and they went well with what I had already started. 

For starters we made these adorable cards to invite her friends and family.
I took black card stock and with a black marker put the spots on (Sunshine help with some of this). Then I hand cut the pattern using an oval and then adding 2 rounded triangles for ears. I taped the ears on and this gave me a template to make many more kitty faces. Once we added the eyes and nose Sunshine also enjoyed helping to add the whiskers and smiles to the kitty's. 

Then we added kitty faces to black cups, which we filled with thank you goodies. I added black ears to the large plates too.
I made these cute kitty hair bands too. Will have to do a tutorial on this some day.

For activities during the party we did these fun kitty wands. I actually came across a sale for the printed duct tape B1G1 Free. And look they had a cute leopard print tape! We used this to hold all of the items to the stick.

We also did: 'learn how to draw a kitty' pages. Everyone also made there own mini kitty pizzas to lunch on.

For decorations I made these fun yarn balls for garland. I used different yarn to wrap around foam balls and a dab of hot glue at the top to keep the yarn from unraveling.

I made fringed paper streamers by taking black paper streamer and folding it in half length wise. Then just cut a bit into the open part of the fold.
Then for something new I wanted to try, I taped faces to some balloons. They turned out cute!

My friend from Dumpster Diving Darling lent me the bird cage and some stands that she made (they are the ones with food on them). Her post on how to epoxy items together is here and the 2 black kitty's we found for only 65 cents each at a local thrift store.

the silver and black stands were made by my friend Heather
My hubby rents the cupcake stand where he works so we got to borrow it for the day. And speaking of cupcakes: the cake itself was made from scratch (it was a dark chocolate recipe). I will have to share another time. But the frosting came from a can. I frosted them and cut the licorice for whiskers and Sunshine decorated them herself. She used small Hershey kisses for the ears, pearl green Sixlets candy for the eyes, red jelly bean for nose, and black licorice for whiskers. She had fun creating! 

So in the middle of all this birthday planning fun my mother-in-law asked me what the theme was for this year. I told her and in the conversation she said "you know you should do this for people". And she has not been the first one to say this. hmmm.....I have been praying to the Lord asking Him to give me a vision on what I can do to help with income but also be home with Sunshine as much as possible. So the wheels are turning...

All photos in this post were taken by myself. Copywright Singing Honey Bee Designs 2014.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

One Pan Cheesy Smoked Sausage & Pasta

This dish I have made 3 times now. It is becoming one of our favorites. It is versatile in that I have made it a little different each time and every time it comes out yummy! The original recipe I found on Pinterest which led me here for the complete instructions on how to make. Two things I have learned about my cooking: one I need to go ahead and spend the money needed for ingredients I wouldn't usually buy, in order for me to make something tasty for my family. The other is that I like not having to follow a recipe exactly. I am learning that I enjoy cooking when I can make it my own. So that is what I have done here. 
Ingredients I used were: avocado oil, smoked sausage, garlic seasoning salt, half a can of diced tomatoes, a scoop of roasted tomato cream cheese, about 1/2 a cup of creamy havarti cheese, 1/2 cup canned evaporated milk, 1 can chicken broth and about 8oz dry pasta. You can truly add any kind of cheese, milk and noodles. I have made with garlic flavored cheddar cheese, added sour cream, and used several different types of noodles too. I have found this to be a forgiving recipe...that's my kind of dish! But again if you want the recipe I originally used see it here

Now lets cook! First I swirled around my large pan some oil then added the sausage sliced up and sprinkled some seasoning on it. I lightly brown the sausage.

Once the sausage is ready I then add the can of chicken broth, milk, canned tomatoes and noodles. I give it a good stir, let the mixture come to a boil, then cover and turn down to cook around 12-15 min on low. I stir the mix every few minutes and re-cover (just because stuff tends to stick to the bottom of this pan)

Once the noodles are done I then add the cheeses and give it a good stir, and let it all melt in. 
Then it is time to enjoy. I serve it up usually with a salad. Yum! 

 What's for dinner tonight?

Print Recipe

Linking up at: Faith Filled Food For Moms

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Welcome Spring!

I have been wanting to make one of these for a while. I was going to try to do one for Christmas but never got to it. So a few months later I see some gorgeous turquoise burlap and resolve to do one for spring. I have a very small budget for decorating. So I am always on the lookout for great deals. I will shop thrift stores, dollar stores, and clearance sales to make our home more lovely. Case in point the wire wreath was brand new still in the package at the thrift store for  65 cents! The pretty yellow flowers (my favorite color of flower) was from the Dollar Tree... you guessed it only 1 dollar! These flowers are great because they are made with alligator clips. So I will be able to remove them and change up the wreath later as the seasons change. I will confess one of the hang ups to making this wreath earlier is burlap is not cheap. And you need quite a bit of it to fill in around the wire. I remembered to look and Walmart for the burlap and found the pretty color for a price I was willing to pay ($3.47). I will say that next time I make one of these I will go ahead and use 2 rolls of burlap just to make sure it is nice and full. But I am pleased with it! 
What you need: wire floral wreath, burlap at least 2 rolls, pipe cleaners to help secure, decorations to add. The first thing I did was loop the burlap in and out of the spokes like so...
Then I went back around going over and under the the two outside circles of the frame...
Then it took some "foofing" and "fluffing" to make it start to shape like you want to, to cover all the wire. This is where more burlap is better. I then used small pieces of pipe cleaner (you can use wire) to help secure the burlap. As a final securing measure I used my glue gun to glue the burlap together in just a couple of places that were being stubborn.
the process of fluffing and foofing the burlap

using pipe cleaner to close some gaps and also to secure the burlap
I then just clipped the flowers in place and there you have it! A pretty and frugal way to welcome Spring!

sharing on: Thrifty Thursdays

Monday, March 10, 2014

Crockpot Creamy Italian Chicken

I found this recipe in small recipe book that I have had for a few years.
 It is titled: 101 things to do with a slow cooker.
 It was yum! To quote my daughter "mom, this is 100 plus 100 % good!"

Here is what you need: 4 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1 envelope dry Italian salad dressing mix, 1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of condensed chicken soup. Mix the salad dressing and condensed soup together, then "smother" over the chicken breasts in crock pot. The recipe book says to cook on high for 6-8 hours or on low for 10-12 hours. The chicken I used was not frozen solid so it did not need the full 6 hours to cook. 

It was easy! I then just fixed up some buttered noodles and served with a veggie. 
It was so good, I forgot to take a picture before we ate it all. 

What's for dinner at your house tonight?

Print Recipe 

Sharing on: Thrifty Thursdays 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

New Meal Monday: Baked Talapia and Yams

Baked Talapia and Yams

Hi friends. Thanks for stopping by! Ok, for the record, it is NOT easy to document your real life with the intentions to share later on your blog. And do you know why that is... well it is because real life happens. Case in point...things were going well. To start with I remembered to charge the batteries for the camera so I can take pictures as I go. I had everything I needed to try a new recipe, dinner was in the oven on time, etc. The phone rings its mom to tell me she is running behind at work and as she is speaking I spy on the refrigerator a post card. It was a reminder of a meeting I needed to attend that night. I search for the time on it, sure enough the meeting is a 7pm. I glance at the clock which reads 6:15. UGGG! I quickly get ready, let hubby know that it will be just him and our daughter eating together and run off to the meeting. The photo above is one that I took after I got back from the meeting and reheated for myself. But it was still yummy!

To start with about an hour before I needed to cook the talapia I started the yams. I love them baked with some butter and cinnamon on top. Dear hubby and sunshine like them same as always. Sweet with "juice" to pour over them. I have been experimenting with how to make these without using the canned yams. My problem with the fresh is how do I get the "liquid" that the can ones always come in. I grew up just straining the canned yams and fixing them once strained. Dear hubby grew up with the liquid going into the baking dish along with the canned yams and then once you add the butter and brown sugar it becomes this sweet "juice" in which to pour over the baked yams upon serving. I hope I am making sense. Anyways I want to make more fresh items but still cook them in a way that I know my family will eat them. So I have made what I think is close to what dear hubby grew up with.
I peel and cut up the yams and put them in the baking dish. I then take about 2 Tbs of butter and melt it then add that to about 1/2 cup of warm water. I then add some brown sugar (about 2 Tbs) and a few dashes of cinnamon. I don't really measure this because I am still experimenting. Then I bake them for about 45 minutes or so until the yams are soft. You could then add the marshmallows (but I didn't this time).  If anyone has an idea what I can use instead of water I would love for you to share in your comment.

A tip for baking whole yams: put foil under them, they leak when baking and make a mess. 

While the yams are in the oven I get started with the talapia:

For the talapia we tried a seasoning that dear husband brought home. It is a sweet rub from Traeger. The first thing I needed to do was to pat dry the fish. Then I drizzled olive oil in the pan and use a basting brush to coat the fillets. Then I coated them with the sweet rub.

I covered the fillets with foil and baked at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or so (I check often). Then I took the foil off the top and turned on the broiler to finish cooking the last five minutes.
Next week I hope to have a more finished meal to share....if real life works out like that!