DIY Fruit and Veggie Holder

I am SO excited about this DIY project turned out! We purchase a lot of fruit & veggies in this house and I feel like they were always overtaking my countertops. So of course I perused Pinterest for ideas of how to combat this situation and I found tons of DIY holders similar to this to hand on the wall. So began the search for supplies!

Unfortunately I did not take pics as I went about hunting for supplies, so I will tell you where I found everything..

  1. Backboard – Lumbar aisle at Lowe’s. It is approximately 1in  x 18in x 4 ft. Was about $9
  2. Stain – Minwax wood finish in Dark Walnut. Located in the paint section of Lowe’s (leftover from another project). I think it was around $15 for both the stain and the sponges
  3. Sponges to spread stain (next to stain I the same aisle)
  4. Picture Hanging Kit (features nails, screen, wire, etc) – hardware aisle at Walmart for $7
  5. Baskets – Better Home and Garden Stacking Baskets. These are the exact baskets I used, and I got 2 of the smaller size and 1 of the larger size. Total for all   3 was $20

 

I stained the wood with 2 coats and let it sit for 24 hours to completely dry. I then asked my darling fiancé to insert just regular hooks to hold the baskets and wire and hanging hooks on the back of the wood.

So simple and easy to make and I LOVE it!

Apple Crisp

One of my favorite things about living in the Midwest is the kindness and generosity of those who live here. Everyone always smiles and says hello, holds doors, and is overall pleasant. On top of that, many people grow their own, fairly elaborate gardens and share or sell their goods for a reasonable price. One of my coworkers was kind enough to bring in about a bushel of apples from her apple trees. They were crabapples, and while not the best for baking, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to bake something with them.

When I got home, I knew I didn’t have enough for an apple pie, nor were they the right kind of apples for a pie, but I thought I would give it a whirl and make an apple crisp with them. Since it was just my fiancé and I that evening, I cut this recipe inn half and it was plenty for two people, with leftovers for the next day.

Now, I must warn you that I THOUGHT I had all the needed ingredients at home already. Mistake #1. I did NOT have the correct ingredients, but I did have items inn my pantry that I substituted with and you couldn’t tell! neither could my fiancé! it still turned out just as delicious as it would have with the original recipe.

So here is my “modified” Apple Crisp recipe!

Ingredients

  • 8 crabapples
  • 1 packet pumpkin oatmeal (this was a substitute for 1 cup oats)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar mixed well with maple syrup (this was a substitute for 3/4 cup brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (original recipe also called for nutmeg, which I didn’t have, but I figured the spices from the pumpkin oatmeal would suffice)
  • 1/4 cup cold butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven  to 375
  2. Grease a small baking dish. I used an 8 x 6 glass dish
  3. Wash, peel and slice apples into thin pieces and layer along bottom of dish
  4. Mix all dry ingredients together (mix the sugar and maple syrup together first if you have not done so yet until it is almost the consistency of brown sugar)
  5. Cut the cold butter into small squares and then into quarters
  6. Mix the butter into the dry ingredients. It will not mix well and this is OK and to be expected. Mix until just lumpy
  7. Spread mixture over top apples until well-covered
  8. Bake uncovered for 25-30 min
  9. Serve warm with ice cream or cool whip

5 Simple Ingredient Crockpot Chili

Need an easy dinner idea? You can’t go wrong with a simple chili recipe that cooks itself in the crockpot. One of the best things about chili is that you can season it to your liking with ingredients you likely have in your pantry. Here is my personal recipe for crockpot chili..

Ingredients

  • Two 15oz cans of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1lb ground beef (excuse the ugly picture, I buy my beef in bulk and Walmart then slice and bag by the pound for easy defrosting)
  • One 15oz can tomato sauce
  • One 15oz can black beans
  • One 15oz can dark red kidney beans
  • Seasonings – I use chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder

 

Directions

  1. Brown beef in large skillet. Drain, and place in crockpot
  2. Add all canned ingredients and mix well
  3. I don’t typically measure my seasonings, but if I had to guess I would say I use 1/2 tbsp. of both onion and garlic powder and probably about 1/2 cup (yes, cup) chili powder. I love the flavor! But you can use much less if you prefer
  4. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours. the longer you cook the chili, the more intense the flavoring will be

 

I enjoy my chili with a side of cornbread. I cheat and pick up a box of cornbread mix from Walmart, but the Walmart brand is SO GOOD! I prefer my chili to be spicy so I add green pepper sauce to mine, but my family enjoys theirs with melted cheese on top.

 

Enjoy!

Cucumber and Corn Salad (super easy!)

Summer days are no time to be slaving over a hot stove making a tasty dinner. Something light and refreshing, yet filling, will the hit the spot on those hot days.

The other day a girlfriend from work gave me approximately 5 medium sized cucumbers picked fresh from her garden. I decided to make something light and refreshing out of them. What I devised was a corn and cucumber salad that was hearty enough o be filling.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ears of fresh corn, chopped (or 15 oz canned corn, drained)
  • 5 medium cucumbers, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup Italian dressing
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. lime OR lemon juice (I had lime juice on hand and used that)
  • 2 tbsp. sugar or sweetener
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in one large bowl! I recommend cutting veggies to your desired size (I cut mine pretty small, but I know some like theirs chunky)
  2. Refrigerate

August Financial Goals

Since I am on a high about being able to successfully achieve my July financial goals, I am upping the ante for August. Here is a snapshot of what my financials look like as I head into August:

Total Debt: $63.927

Total Credit Card Debt: $15,946

Credit Card #2: $485

Department Store Credit Card #2: $240

Total goal for August: $725

 

The reason for the larger changes in my total debt is because it took several weeks for the auto loan to hit my credit as paid in full. My credit score increased about 5 points so far, my credit utilization decreased by 1%, and my debt to income ratio is decreasing. Credit Karma and Credit Sesame won’t report my updated figures until probably next week or so, so I won’t post more updated stats until September.

I can’t describe how GOOD it feels to see those numbers going down! I know they only went down slightly, but seeing PROGRESS is so inspiring! I feel even more confident that I will achieve all of my financial goals.

July Financial Goal Update…. Achieved!

Back at the beginning of July, I admitted that I had not achieved one financial goal since January. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but more so dealing with a few unexpected curveballs that were flung my way.

Here is a snapshot of what my finances looked like at the beginning of July:

Total Debt: $70,319

Total Credit Card Debt: $16,927

Credit Card #1: 241

Department Store Credit Card #1: $338

 

My major financial goal was to pay off $579 in 2 credit cards. Because of autopay (and I won’t get into semantic about when it came out versus the interest I was paying, etc) but basically I ended up paying off the two for a total of $515.

Credit Card #1 had an autopay of $40 a month and Department Store Credit Card #1 had an autopay of $27 a month. So for August, I will now put an additional $67 towards the next financial goal.

I am hoping to see a positive impact on my credit score with a lower overall debt balance, lower debt to income ratio, and lower credit utilization marks in the next few weeks.

 

Chicken Caesar Salad

After a long day in the hot sun, I crave something light and refreshing for dinner. So after spending several hours baking in the heat at a local fair, I opted for a Chicken Caesar Salad. I must admit that I was, what we call in our house, a “cheatie wheatie” when making this meal. AKA I bought all pre-made options versus making it myself. But hey, can you blame me? I was on the verge of heat stroke….

It still ended up being a cheap, easy, and somewhat healthy dinner. I added bacon bits to ours so that kind of cancels out the healthy part….

Ingredients:

  • Salad mix if you buy pre-made, but I absolutely support buying a head of lettuce and extras that tickle your fancy. I choose the Dole Class Romaine Salad Mix (LOVE Romaine lettuce!)
  • Caesar dressing
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Croutons (optional)
  • Bacon Bits (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Cut the chicken into long, thin strips. Grill, fry or bake as you prefer. Once cooked thoroughly, cut into smaller pieces. I prefer grilled chicken in my salads
  2. In a large bowl, combine salad mix, dress, croutons, and bacon bits. Mix thoroughly
  3. Add pieces of chicken and mix again

5 Tips For Surviving Your New Job

Starting a new job can be one of the scariest and stress-producing experiences of both your professional and personal life. You are going to feel unsure, out of place, and overwhelmed, but it is important to remember that these feelings are temporary and will pass. As someone who has held several different positions in her professional career, and has moved several times because of it, here are some of my tips to help ease you through this transition.

  1. Do your research before starting. I would hope you had done some research BEFORE accepting the position, but Google “what is it like to work at XXXXX” and see what other employees, both past and present, report. Go on the company website and look for things such as dress code and corporate philosophy. These things may seem minor but can be very insightful. For example, if your soon-to-be employer has a strict dress code, they are probably strict on a lot of their other policies and have set the bar high for their employees. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just something to be mindful of going into your role.
  2. Arrive early (if you can). Getting to work early shows you are putting effort into your position. Arriving 10 minutes early to clock in, get coffee, and get settled prepares you to hit the ground running the minute you open your emails. It also allows you time to greet your coworkers and offer a friendly “Good Morning!”
  3. Piggy-backing off #2 – say hello to your coworkers! You don’t have to stop and ask them how their Aunt Susie is doing every time you see them, but smiling and saying “hello” or “good morning” lets your coworkers know you are approachable.
  4. Meet with your boss/mentor regularly and ask for a training or transitional plan for the first 30-60-90 days. Ask what your learning priorities are and what is expected of you so you can properly set priorities and navigate your milestones. Also, be sure to ask what the protocol is for things such as requesting time off, working from home, flex time, etc. Take advantage of what is available but make sure you are doing so in the proper way.
  5. ASK FOR HELP! Speak up when you are unsure of what you are supposed to do or if you don’t understand something. You are not going to be expected to know all the nuances of your job or the company lingo in your first few weeks. But make sure you are advocating for yourself. And be sure to own up to your mistakes because, let’s face it, you are going to make them. You colleagues will have more respect for you when you take responsibility for your actions versus ignoring them or blaming them on someone else. Take advantage of being the newbie – a time when slip ups are more forgivable.

I cannot reiterate enough that the most important thing to remember is that the feelings experienced in the few first weeks in your new role are temporary. Soon you will lose the title of “new person” and will solidify yourself as just another member of the organization.

Easy Crockpot Honey Pineapple Ham

Some people just love ham, and my (step)daughter is one of those people. I am always open to new and tasty ham recipes and I feel plain ham can get old quick. This past Easter, I came across a recipe on Pinterest (of course) that called for ham in the crockpot, which made it super moist and tasty. I had this AHA! moment, like “why did I never think of that?”

The Easter ham did in fact turn out moist, but still seemed a little bland. So this time I decided to add honey and pineapple into the mix and the result was delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 precooked ham (any kind will do, I choose a honey cured one since I knew I was adding honey to my recipe)
  • 1 jar honey
  • 1 small can Dole sliced pineapples

Directions:

  1. Add 2 cups water to crockpot
  2. Place entire ham in water
  3. Add honey – I didn’t measure, just squirted the honey over the entire surface of the ham. I would guesstimate I used approximately 3 tablespoons to do so. I also added a little to the water, about half a teaspoon to each side
  4. Add 2 slices of pineapple to top of ham so it is completely covered
  5. Cover and cook on low 9 hours (which is the amount of time I am out of the house with my work schedule, but I would suggest a minimum of 6 hours)

 

Since I made this during the summer, my (step)daughter was home and I asked her to flip the ham over around lunch time, but I don’t think this was necessary. Either way your result will be moist, sweet, delicious ham!

3 Ingredient Meatloaf

I don’t know about you, but growing up I LOVED my mother’s meatloaf! I thought she made it fairly frequently because we all enjoyed it, but now as a working adult I realize she made it so often because it’s easy!! Haha, oh the things you realize as you grow older…

While scouring Pinterest one day looking for recipes (shocker, I know) I kept seeing pins for 2 Ingredient Meatloaf using Stovetop stuffing and beef so I thought I would give it a try. The seasonings in the Stovetop are enough to give the meatloaf some flavor, but it took several tried before getting to what I deem to be the perfect recipe – a 3 Ingredient Meatloaf Here’s are my tips to make this recipe work:

  1. Take a box of Stove stuffing (any flavor) and dump the entire contents into a galloon size Ziploc bag. Take a hard object that won’t break and use it to crush the stuffing mix into very small pieces. A rolling pin, bowl, or meat tenderizer would work well. *This smashing step is important, otherwise you will get large stuffing chunks in your meatloaf*
  2. Once smashed into itty bitty pieces, dumps contents into large bowl. Crack an egg and add that to your mix. Blend well.
  3. Take thawed 1 lb beef and combine with stuffing mixture. I get down and dirty and use my (clean) hands to mix this well so I don’t end up with chunks of stuffing.
  4. Once mixed well, place into oven safe dish and spread a thin layer of ketchup on top (optional, I do so because my (step)daughter is addicted to ketchup). Cover with tin foil. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees

And there you have it! Simple 3 ingredient meatloaf that isn’t dry and just as delicious as the kind mom used to make!

 

(photo courtesy of keyingredient.com)