Pesto

There are millions of Pesto recipes out there, but I don’t care for pine nuts, and I almost never have fresh basil on hand, so I whipped up my own pesto recipe and it’s so good I thought I would share it.

Ingredients:

2 cups Basil, Cilantro, or Parsley (dried or fresh)
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:

1. Put the dried herbs in a food processor or blender with the olive oil and allow to soak for about 20 minutes. If using fresh herbs you can skip this step.

2. Add all remaining ingredients to the food processor or blender and process until it becomes a creamy sauce.

3. Pour over cooked pasta, chicken, pork, or vegetables and enjoy.

Note: For long term storage this can be frozen in ice cube trays. Transfer to a ziploc baggie after frozen.

Advertisements

Meal Planner Printable

I don’t know what it is about the new year, but it always inspired me to get organized. It probably has something to do with the “new year, new start” way of thinking. Today when I sat down to start meal planning for the next two weeks I decided the way that I currently do my planning is very inefficient. So in the name of efficiency I of course spent the entire day researching, and re-creating the wheel. Needless to say I didn’t get my meal plan and shopping list completed. I happen to be incredibly efficient at procrastination.

It would have been so much easier if I did things the way everyone else did. I don’t know how it’s possible, but I seem to be the only person who does meal planning and shopping two weeks at a time. At the very least I am the only person on Pinterest. So instead of being able to use a pre-existing meal planning printout I got to design my own. My original was in black and white because I hate wasting colored ink on stuff like this, but I made some prettier versions for those of you who have no such restraints.

mpbwmpbgmppy

Feel free to use them and share with others, but if you link these on your website or blog please mention me.

DIY- Crochet Dishcloths

IMG_4957The very first, and easiest, of the homemade gifts that I tackled was the crochet dishcloths. There are literally gazillions (is that a number?) of free patterns out there on the internet, and I think I tried about 10 of them before I finally settled into a very simple Double Crochet dishcloth pattern. You can get fancy, but for something that is going to scrub your dishes everyday I really prefer practical and durable.

Materials:

  • 100% cotton worsted weight yarn
  • 5.0 mm crochet hook
  • needle to sew ends in

Terms/Abbreviations:

  • ch-chain
  • dc-double crochet
  • sc-single crochet

Pattern:

  1. Chain 28
  2. 1 dc into third chain from hook, 1 dc into each ch to end (26dc). Turn
  3. Ch2, 1 dc into each dc till end (26dc). Turn
  4. Repeat step 3 (1dc into each dc), 14 more times. (15 row of dc in total)
  5. rotate clockwise On what was previously the left side 25 sc. At the corner 3 sc in same chain. Rotate clockwise and continue the same pattern (25 sc and 3 sc in same chain) until you finish all four sides.
  6. Fasten off, sew in ends.

IMG_4940IMG_4953IMG_4955

Notes:

  • If you are like me and you find it very difficult to keep track of what row you are on justIMG_4954 fold your work in half diagonally, and if it makes a perfect triangle you are ready to finish the edges.

Christmas Savings Plans

Christmas is over and many of us are remembering the holiday with joy, but groaning inwardly at the bills we know are coming in January. I know I am one of many who have trouble planning ahead, and budgeting for Christmas. I almost always find myself having to put something on a credit card when I swore I wasn’t going to do that this year. And then I am stuck paying for Christmas many months later when I would much rather be saving for next year.

I’ve done some research into Christmas savings plans and although the ones available at many banks are wonderful they don’t work for everyone. Many blogs are talking about the 52 Week Money Challenge. (Photo credit: unknown, but it’s not mine)

Image

This looks interesting, but when it comes to my family I can already see some problems with how this would likely play out.

  • In the beginning we would look at the trivial amount of money and say “We’ll catch up next week.”, but we wouldn’t.
  • Anything more than $40.00 a week would just smash our budget to pieces and it would unfortunately happen right when the holidays start to pick up and we would most need that little wiggle room. Lets face it, almost no one plans perfectly.
  • In our household we typically find our budgets to be the tightest starting in the fall with the smaller summer vacation paychecks coming in, and back to school expenses, and that is when this really starts to pick up.
  • We get paid bi-weekly, so we budget bi-weekly, shop bi-weekly, and save bi-weekly.

To better suit my family’s financial needs I’ve come up with a slightly modified version of the original 52 week savings challenge. This savings plan starts small, grows to it’s maximum savings amount by the middle of the year, and then tapers off to a small and completely do-able amount by the time the holidays roll around.

Image

  • This plan starts small, but not so small that we would feel like we can just catch up next week.
  • It takes into account that there are some extra bills for us in the early months of the year such as registration renewals and yearly subscriptions.
  • It does pick up in amount fairly quickly, but then tapers off again just as fast.
  • By the time back-to-school rolls around the savings amount per paycheck is small, and continues to get smaller as you transition into the holidays.

Some people will be thinking that this plan doesn’t save as much as the original version. You’re right, but if you can’t come up with a plan that works for you then odds are you won’t save anything at all. I challenge you to find what works best for you and your family, even if that is just tossing all of your spare change in a jar. Every little bit helps. If your resolution for 2014 is to get your budgets and savings in order then give this a try. It just might work for you.