January 27, 2012

My Favorite Comfort Food…. Shepard’s Pie

On a cold and dreary day I like to fix something that is warming and comforting for dinner. There are many versions of Shepard’s Pie but this is my favorite way to make it. My kids love it, although my daughter claims to not like the green beans, kind of strange since she usually has two helpings of it. Guess it must not be too bad…lol. This recipe is really easy to make, other than it dirties quite a few dishes in the process (the only draw back). One of these times when I make it I’m going to try doubling the meat and green beans mixture then freeze half of it. Then the next time I make it, it should cut the cooking and prep time in half, I’ll just have to remember to get the meat mixture out in time to thaw.

Storm’s Shepard’s Pie

1 lb. ground beef

5 cups instant mashed potatoes (10 servings)

8 oz. shredded cheddar, or colby jack cheese

2 14.5 oz. cans french style green beans

1 cup brown gravy

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Brown ground beef in large skillet then drain.

2. Prepare brown gravy, and mashed potatoes according to directions on package.

3. Combine ground beef, brown gravy, and the 2 cans of green beans in a 9.25 x 13.25 (3 quart) casserole dish. Season to taste ( I usually add some dry chopped onions, garlic salt and pepper.) After stirring the mixture, spread it evenly in the pan.

4. Cover the meat mixture with the mashed potatoes (I also like to season the mashed potatoes with some garlic salt, and sprinkle a little bit of cheese as I’m mixing the mashed potatoes.

5. Sprinkle cheese on the top of the mashed potatoes. Then bake for 20 min. or until heated through.

6. Let stand for a few minutes before serving, will be piping hot. Enjoy!!

Makes at least 8 servings….. we always end up with leftovers. It is one of the rare times I actually enjoy the leftovers. :)

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January 23, 2012

Valentine’s Subway Art Printables

With Valentine’s Day only a few weeks away I thought I would make up some subway art printables. I had a lot of fun creating them, I love playing with different fonts and styles. They are set at a pretty high resolution so they should print out nicely. I just printed them out on plain white paper, to see how they’d look in a frame, and I think they turned out great. If you want to use card stock paper, it might work a little better.

Click on either picture below to download the full size image.

If you would like to share these on your website, please link back.

They are for Personal use only.

Please do not claim them or sell them as your own!!

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January 20, 2012

A Great Home Budgeting App.

One of my biggest goals this year is to organize everything in my life. I’ve been working on organizing my house, I’m currently working on my living room, then I’ll proceed to my kitchen. Besides having more order in my house, I’ve also found a way to stay better organized with my family’s finances with the use of an awesome app on my iPhone. When I got my iPhone last year I scoured the app store trying to find the perfect app for me to be able to keep better track of our bills. Before getting my new, extremely smart, smart phone, I used to print out monthly calendars that I would use to write the amounts and due dates of my monthly bills. It helped me keep track of what was due and when, but the calendars stayed on my desk, and would usually get buried in a mountain of other papers. Sometimes I would forget to check them on a regular basis, and may forget a bill until after it was late. There was also the issue of keeping my husband abreast of the finances and what bills were due when, (I automatically assumed he would remember when certain bills were due, like the rent, but I was

So in my quest to find the perfect app to keep track of everything for me, I stumbled upon HomeBudget by Anishu, Inc. I was mainly looking for something with a calendar that I could put the bills in on their due date with the amount due, and since most all of my bills are due on the same date every month I wanted it to auto populate those bills for me in the future months as well. This app does all of that and way more than I was expecting. I can set up my bills for the month, on their due dates, and have them automatically recur on future months. Some of my bills pretty much have a set amount I pay each month, like the rent, loan payment and car payment, so when I set up the recurring bill I can put the set amount for those bills in. With the bills that vary month by month, like electric, and gas, I can set them up as varies then when I get the actual bill I can go in and edit the amount. This is exactly what I wanted in a home budgeting app, but luckily it doesn’t stop there.

I can also use this app to keep better track of our bank accounts, and see how much money we have available. When you first set up the application, you can add your bank accounts to it (please note, that the app doesn’t ask for any account numbers for your financial institutions). It has a variety of accounts you can add to it to keep track of. The main ones I use are my two checking accounts, and a couple savings account. You’ll set up a beginning balance on the app that coincides with your bank account. Then when you have any income or expenses you can enter them into the app, and it’ll adjust the amount accordingly. It is very helpful when paying bills, since when sending a check, the amount doesn’t come out of your checking account right away, but as soon as you mark a bill paid in the app it will minus the amount from which ever account you mark it as paid from. That way you can see how much money you have available in your account, incase you forget about a check you sent out that might not have cleared your checking account yet.

Another thing I really like about this app, is being able to set up a budget. It comes with some preset categories, and sub categories, like mortgage, utilities, groceries and so on. Every time you mark a bill as paid, it will let you put that bill into a category, same with expenses like groceries. You can set up a specific budget amount for each category, and keep track of how close your getting to that amount. The application also has various charts, so that you can see where the bulk of your money is going each month... I think mine is It’s nice being able to look back each month to see how much we’re spending on things like groceries, or restaurants. It’ll be nice at the end of the year to be able to look back and see how much we’ve spent on our various bills.

I’m sure there are other aspects I could go into about the app, but suffice it to say I absolutely love it. It does take some work, you have to remember to add your purchases to it, mark bills paid, and add income to it. I would say, treat it as you would your checkbook register, just more like a digital version. Since I carry my iPhone with me everywhere, at least I always know where we stand on our finances, incase I really want to buy One other thing I want to mention that I really like, is that it can sync with other idevices. I have the app on my iPhone, and my husband has it on his iPod Touch, so he can see what bills are due when and how much money is in our accounts. You can set up what is called Family Sync, with a group name and password, and then you can connect multiple idevices to it, and they’ll all show the same information. It’s a great way to keep your spouse in the know, on the finances. You can also set it up to remind you days before a bill is due, via push notification and badges.

The application is available on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad for $4.99. There is also a free version that you can try out, but I have to say it’s worth every penny, in my book. You can also check it out on the developer's website:

(Please note: I’m not being paid to write this review. I truly love this app. The views expressed in this post are entirely mine.)

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January 10, 2012

That Time of Year again...

It's that time of year again, a time to reflect on the previous year, and make goals for the new year. I’ve personally decided to stay away from making New Year’s resolutions, because for me, I’ll think about them for a little while, but then they become forgotten. This year I’m opting for setting goals (using a different term ... lol) to see if I can better accomplish the things I want to do. I having been thinking this last week on the things I want to see happen for this new year, with the fresh start that a new year brings with it. Most of the goals I’m setting for myself I feel are attainable, with a little bit of work on my part. I’m not going to kid myself in setting goals that I know will go in one year and out the other (pun intended). So, let’s make the list....

Finance -
My biggest goal this year financially, is to pay off all mine and my husband’s debt. Luckily there isn’t a whole lot, I don’t have any credit cards (thank god). Most of the debt we have, aside from our car, is medical stuff. The car will be paid off this year regardless of the other stuff (and I’ll be doing a happy dance when that happens If we can attain this goal, then that should put us in a good position for our goal next year to be able to buy a house. That will be our prize.
My other goal in regards to finances, is to continue what I’ve already started last year, to find ways to cut our monthly expenses. I already use coupons a much as possible to help with the grocery bill. I’m not an extreme coupon person by any means, and really don’t plan to be, but I do use enough to garner the name, crazy coupon lady, from my kids. ( In my defense, I think they’d call me that even if I only use them once in a great while.) We’re also planning on cutting cost on our cable bill this year, by making the switch to over the air programming, which is free. 90% of what we watch on tv is on our local channels, and for movies, we have Netflix. I don’t see the point in paying upwards of a hundred dollars for what we can pretty much get for free, or at least low cost for what we use.
My last goal for this year in finance, is to hopefully be able to bring in some income from some new endeavors I plan to try this year. I know the things I’m trying to do will take some time to really start paying off, but if I can stick with it, and not get discouraged, it may be just what I’ve been dreaming of. I’ve set my expectations pretty low, but hopefully with some hard work, and persistence, this goal will be reached before the end of the year.

Health wise for me, I need to try to take better care of myself. My biggest problem is for what ever reason, I just don’t want to eat anything until dinner time. I know this plays a big factor in not being able to accomplish everything I want to get done in a day. I just don’t have the energy. So I guess I’ll chalk this up to eating healthier, or at least in my case, eating more.
Exercise would be a great goal for this year, but I’m not going to kid myself in believing that I’ll actually do it. I would like to tone up my body some, and I may try to get back into doing some exercises like pilates, but typically that only lasts for a few weeks. I could surprise myself and do more, like go on walks (once it warms up). Well just leave this one as a maybe.

My goal this year for my home is to continue my quest to declutter and organize my entire house, besides cleaning it from top to bottom. I hate clutter, it drives me crazy. I like to have everything in it’s rightful place, making it easier to find when needed. After living in this house for 4 years we have acquired a lot of new stuff. The old items get placed in a storage room in our basement, which is getting quite full. Once the weather warms up some I plan to either have a big yard sale, or donate at least half the stuff in that room.

There are so many fun projects I’ve wanted to do for the past few years. Candle making, soap making, painting, crafts, writing and anything in between. I plan to share as much as I can on this blog as well. So stay tuned for that...

I’m sure there will be more goals I’ll think of later, but if I can accomplish all of this in the coming year, I’ll consider it a successful year. Above all I want this to be a happy year and bring my family closer together. I pray this year will be less stressful then past years, and filled with good memories.

Do you have any goals for the coming year? Please feel free to share. :)
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