Quick Meal Prep and Buying Meat in Bulk

This is a oldie but a goodie blog post. I have started using this method again recently and I forgot how easy it makes meal planning. Give it a try.

Originally posted 2/12: I have a problem. I am have obsession with marinated meat: all forms.

From chicken breasts to tenderloin, I love it all.

Any grilled meat that soaked overnight in Italian dressing causes me to swoon.

My obsession is inherited from my father.

And my dad does his own grocery shopping in regards to his marinating regime.

To this day, my mother groans when my dad announces that he is going grocery shopping.

Dad’s Typical Shopping Trip when I was a Kid:

1 Gallon of soy sauce

12 bottles of Italian dressing

12 bottles of BBQ sauce

1/2 Gallon of Miracle Whip (gross)

1 Gallon of bread and butter pickles

1 Gallon of dill pickles

and more navel oranges than a family of nine can eat.

We don’t know why he bought large quantities of pickles and Miracle Whip(again, gross).

Perhaps he bought navel oranges because he thought that we would get scurvy from eating only pickles and sandwich spread, but I do know why he buys salad dressing and soy sauce.

He is the Marinating King! I digress….

Art work by drywell art @ etsy

I try to be cost-effective when I grocery shop, especially when I buy meat.

Buying it in large packages when it’s on sale  and then freezing it is great.

My dilemma is that I get home from work at 6:30 with a freezer full of meat but no real plan of action, just a hungry stomach.

Because of this, I have come up with a game plan. Buy meat in bulk, place meal sized portions in freezer bags, add Miracle Whip marinade or seasonings to the bag, label it, and then freeze. The beauty of this plan is that I transfer the meat from the freezer to the frig before I leave for work in the morning. Viola! By 6:30 I have a thawed, seasoned meat ready to be made into something yummy.

Here are a few of the marinade or seasoning combinations I use with the meat before I freeze it:

Oriental Meals(chicken or beef): sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar(or honey), fresh or powdered garlic, and pepper

Mexican Meals(chicken, pork or fish for tacos): canola oil, hot sauce or salsa, lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper

Italian Meals (chicken or shrimp): dried Herbs de Provence or dried Oregano and Basil, olive oil, garlic, white or red wine vinegar

Oven fried chicken: milk and lemon juice (or buttermilk), lots of cracked pepper and Lawry’s seasoning salt

Next time you see a package of 12 fresh chicken breasts for a steal, buy them! And use my method. You will love it! Promise.

Retail Therapy: Let’s Talk Hair Products, Argan Oil

I have fine semi curly hair that is VERY easily damaged by the sun, gets split ends CONSTANTLY and is greatly affected by humidity (hello SC summers, I am looking at you).

So I am always looking for products to help with hair hydration.

BUT I am also super high maintenance about how my hair feels; I don’t like heavy conditioners and oils.

And I am sure you have heard the hype about Moroccanoil product line of argan oils and the like.

When I read the Pioneer Woman’s review,I put on my fancy pants and I actually considered buying it.

And then I was like, “Wait a second, until I have a show on the Food Network I don’t need to buy high dollar hair products.”

While I am sure it’s wonderful stuff, I just can’t justify spending that much dinero on potions for my hair.

But a few months ago while still sporting my unemployed by Food Network, dried out, frizzy hair I was perusing the aisles at Target when I spotted this similar  but less expensive product line called Organix.

So I picked up some keratin/argan oil and some deep conditioner hair mask.

Argon Oil- is it worth the cost

1, 2, 3, 4

The verdict is: I am hooked on the Organix product line. It works great and smells AMAZING. And my husband even likes to use it (shh don’t tell).

I could tell a difference in my hair after the first day of using the light keratin oil.

So I saved myself $105.64 for a grand total of $11.76 plus tax. That’s pretty chic cheap if you ask me.

If you are in the market for hair potions, check them out the next time you are at Target or these other retailers.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend.

Home Improvement: Spray Paint, A DIY Girl’s Best Friend

If you read any DIY blogs or magazines you know that spray paint projects abound!

And while I love to tackle decorating projects with spray paint like this post about yard sale wall sconces from last year, sometimes there are just normal everyday uses for the stuff.

Hence, this very simple project.

While creating a new photo college in one of our hall ways I finally decided to fix the problem of yellowing plastic.

The doorbell cover. It was supposed to be white, but over the years it has slowly yellowed which just makes the hall look dingy and old against the fresh paint and new white baseboard.

Spray Painted Door Bell Box

So I asked Joe to grab a can of flat white spray paint the next time he was at Ace Hardware.

And then I simply popped the cover off the wall and got to work.

Spray Painting Door Bell Cover

Total cost, $4.50 and about 5 minutes of working time plus 24 hour drying and de-fuming time in the garage.

Tada! No more dingy looking doorbell cover!

The Domestic Lady- Spray Paint is a DIY Girl's Best Friend

http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2013/10/24/thrifty-thursday-week-33/

Retail Therapy: A Week of Ikea, What is Worth Buying At Ikea?

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Ikea buying listI apologize in advance for the length of this post. If you missed the other Ikea posts this week go here and here.

I am somewhat of a shopaholic. I buy a lot of stuff.

Thankfully people are willing to pay me for my services.

But because I shop a lot for myself and others, I see a lot of merchandise.

That said, Ikea can be a trap. Everything seems so “cheap and shiny.”

But cheap and shiny are not always a good thing.

And while there is a lot of cool unnecessary merchandise , there are things that I think are truly worth a trip to the Swedish mecca.

Here are a few things that I purchase at Ikea. (By no means is this an exhaustive list)

Decorative Pillows- Forms and Covers

I frequently buy new pillow covers to update my existing pillows.

Just be sure to measure your existing forms to make sure the new covers will fit.

16×16, 18×18, 20×20, 24×24 are pretty standard sizes. Prices range from $3-15.

Window Treatment Hardware

Window hardware is another area where Ikea is great.

You can get exactly what you need without having lots of leftover parts.

And my favorite item is the drapery rings with clips, $3.99 for 10 rings. As someone who has paid as much as  $4 per ring this is a steal of a deal.

Tip: Hanging curtains from rings instantly updates them. When hanging panels, plan on 5-7 rings per panel.

Like the pillow covers, measure your windows before you go.

Window Treatments

I also purchase a lot of ready-made window treatments for clients on a tight budget.

Overall, I have been every pleased with the quality of the curtains and roman shades. I also used them in my basement overhaul a few weeks ago.

I love that they sell the curtains in the extended lengths making it easy to install the curtains 8″-12″  above the window frame which makes a room/window feel bigger.

You can easily “hem” them with iron-on hem tape like in this post. Prices range from $4.99 through $50.

Frames for inexpensive art and photos

I love the Ikea frames! I used them in my recent basement overhaul.

The great thing about the frames is that you don’t have to use the existing matting. Or you can back the art or photo with fabrics or burlap (as seen in this post).

So don’t feel limited by the mat size. Be creative. Those huge frames with inexpensive art are calling your name.

Your bare walls will thank you for it. Prices range from $1-$25.

Storage- baskets and bins

I love a clean looking house.

Therefore baskets are the ham to my green eggs.

I can “clean” my house in 5 minutes by just putting everything in it’s appropriate basket (preferably with a lid).

I put them everywhere.

And what’s great is a basket=pretty.

Rubbermaid bin= not so pretty.

Ikea has LOTS of baskets and bins to choose from at great prices! Prices range from $5-15.

Candles and Candle-holders

I usually stock up on candles when I visit Ikea.

Their prices on tapered candles as well as tea lights are great.

I also really like their lanterns and other candle holders.

Tip: Their lanterns make great holiday decorations without being limited to one holiday. Generic decorations = you get more bang for your buck.

Serving and Hosting Items

Ikea has SO many options in great serving bowls, cake stands and party serving items.

The possibilities are endless.

Kitchen Caddies and Islands

I am a sucker for a good butcher block island and Ikea has lots to offer.

I also love their rolling caddies (see turquoise one below) that have endless possibilities.

I think that next summer I will line the mesh shelves with coco-mat and plant my herbs in it . The casters will make it easy to move around and water.

PicMonkey Collage

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PicMonkey Collage1

10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Have you ever been to Ikea? Do you have any items that you love to purchase at Ikea?

http://thedomesticlady.com/2013/09/13/retail-therapy-a-week-of-ikea-what-is-worth-buying-at-ikea/

Retail Therapy: A Week of Ikea, Lamps for $30 and My Search for a Shade

Ikea 003

First of all, I would like to say that I always thought Ikea was for European people who lived in cool lofts apartments, had no children and skied in the Alps for Christmas holiday.

While I am sure that is partially true, I have discovered over the past few years that Ikea is for everyone.

Cool loft or not. Ikea is for the masses, sorta like Walmart but way cooler. :) 

PS. I am a Target girl, myself.

They carry a huge array of basic home decor and staples for setting up house.

And while your house may look like you live in a minimalist Swedish home if you decorate entirely with Ikea goods….

like most home decor stores, a few items will not turn you into a yuppy person who skis in the Alps at Christmas.

Moving on, I blogged about my Ikea trip with my sisters and aunt a few weeks ago.

I just planned to get curtains (which I will blog about soon), but I went a little overboard once I got here.

I swear that place sucks you in.

And you think “Well I am stuck in here anyway, I might as well fill my cart.”

Anyway, I picked up two lamps while I was there.

I was unsure of the quality, but they were so inexpensive I thought it could not hurt.

A work lamp for my husband’s desk.

(Beware, buy the specialty bulbs that go with the lamp. I had to order them off Amazon once I got home and realized the lamp didn’t take a standard bulb)

BAROMETER Work lamp, nickel plated $29.99
BAROMETER
Work lamp, nickel plated $29.99

and a floor lamp.

EKARP Floor lamp base, nickel plated, $30
EKARP
Floor lamp base, nickel plated, $30

Well I have been living with them for a month now and I can’t tell you how much I love them.

Both are a great weight, and are a very high quality. I can’t speak for all Ikea lamps, but these two are winners.

I didn’t care for the floor lamp shades that Ikea had to offer so I perused my local World Market(one of my go to places for great quality inexpensive lamp shades) and spotted this dealio (sorry that it my best attempt at slang).

And I liked the natural cork shade in contrast to the modern lamp.

cork lamp
NATURAL CORK TABLE LAMP SHADE, $6.24

It was just the right size and had the right internal mechanisms to fit with the Ikea EKARP Floor lamp base. Score at 75% off.

ikea

Ikea 003

The floor lamp provides extra light that was needed in one corner of our living room. I could not be happier with it.

Do you have a favorite lamp?

http://www.notjustahousewife.net/2013/09/show-me-what-ya-got-137.html

Home Improvement: How to Give Oak Cabinets and Furniture an $8.99 Face-lift without Paint

When I completed the basement overhaul (click here for the full reveal), I had two pieces of oak that needed a face lift but I didn’t want to tackle painting either one because of time and (let’s be honest) a lack of patience.

So I started searching for options other than painting.

before gel

After lots of reading and researching I settled on this product by General Finishes. It is recommended for wood that has already been stained.

Very light sanding or just a good cleaning is all the prep that is required before applying it.

And it had rave reviews all over pinterest.

Java Gel Stain, 1/2 Pint

Honestly, I didn’t really believe all the hype, but it totally works.

I have read terrible reviews on other brands of gel stain so be aware of the brand that you choose.

I loved the gel consistency, aka no stain drips anywhere.

Both of the pieces that I stained required three coats, but the results are amazing. It completely refreshed and updated previously light colored wood without stripping the old stain off.

basement 4

gel after

I purchased 1/2 pint for $8.99 and even after completing the vanity and the media unit I still have 1/4 can remaining.

Honestly, this is one of the easiest furniture makeovers I have ever done.

Each layer of stain only took about 20 minutes to apply, with a 24 hour drying time in between. I just followed the directions from the General Finishes website.

I am going to apply some kind of sealant to the stain eventually, but it will probably be the same furniture wax (click here for a tutorial by Barb Blair) I used on my painted chest of drawers seen below↓.

kitchen-fixture-191
Antique Painted Dresser in our Sun Room

What do you think? Would you try it on some outdated oak furniture?

before after gel

Home Improvement: Before and After, Our Chic Cheap Basement Man Cave

First of all, I prematurely posted this before/after post two times.

Sorry about that, it just really wanted to be posted and I was not going fast enough I guess. :)

My goal with this overhaul of the basement/bathroom was not to win any decorating awards.

I avoided Pinterest, decorating blogs or really any other online resources.

I didn’t want these rooms to be overly staged and unlivable because of too many expensive accessories and DIY projects.

I just shopped online, consignment stores, and Target/Ikea to pull things I liked (and that I knew my family would like, ie not girly).

The purpose was to create an inviting place for the my stepsons to watch TV on the weekends…because if they watch TV with us upstairs they usually complain that Joe and I kiss and cuddle too much for their liking: )And also because I could watch 48 Hours about 24 hours a day. The kids can only take so many murder shows I guess. :)

It really did have a castle dungeon-like ambiance going on down there…which is great at Medieval Times.

We just like to differentiate between our home and theme restaurants.

So anyway I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, but I did want a comfortable room with meaningful decorations.

Oh and all the guys requested blue walls. Not light blue and not navy blue. Somewhere in between. Apparently they are opinionated in regards to blue.

I think I accomplished what was wanted.

Doc49

And thankfully I was able to spread the costs over about four months so it didn’t rock our bank account too much.

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Basement Before 1
Creamy Yellowy White Walls = gross

Before 3

Basement Before 2

stand

Basement Bathroom

IMG_0159

Basement Makeover
Oak vanity before the gel stain treatment

 

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During: We painted, fluffed, steamed, stained, vacuumed, painted some more and then took a nap.

Poppi, the chihuahua, was the paint inspector.
These $13 white roman shades really helped give some privacy to the room.

basement 2

Blue accent wall painted, new mirror and vanity light hung.
final basement 1
Hung new light, and freshly stained “old” media unit in the background

——————————————————————————

After:   A functional clean room for the kids to hang out with friends.

final 3
The recliner and sofa were both second hand finds in excellent condition.

basement 7

final 6

final 2

final 5
The dark gel stain on the media cabinet really updated it.

basement 10

Basement Bathroom

basement 3
Freshly stained oak bathroom vanity.
basement 5
Modern brushed nickel hardware
basement 7
Love this little owl hook.
final
The wall art was painted by my husband in elementary school.

Here is the run down of the costs and sources:

Thankfully the tile flooring is in great shape so we could leave it as is, but it did need an area rug to warm up the space. And the rest of the stuff in the room I already owned.

  • 5 pieces of art from my husband’s art class days in elementary school, my mother-in-law let me raid her stash of his old art work when we were in MI at her house in July.
  • $200 (3 years ago), 11×14 sisal area rug was from my old apartment, but fit the shape of the room perfectly.
  • Reused coffee table, lamp and media console that my husband already had
  • $60+$40 (about a year ago) Reused brown velvet drapes from World Market and curtain hardware
  • $40 (5 years ago), Old trunk from Salvation Army as a sofa table
  • Free- Spray paint for a rusty toilet paper holder overhaul

Overall, I am very pleased with how this room turned out. We don’t spend a lot of time down here but when we do it’s nice to have it looking nice:) and not dungeon like.

Honestly the best change for me was getting rid of those creamy yellowy white walls. They were just gross.

And my favorite things in the room are the art we bought on our trips this summer and my husband’s elementary school art. And of course my  $275 Craigslist Haverty’s leather sofa. :)

before after

before after bathroom

What do you think? How did we do with our function cheap chic overhaul?

http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2013/08/29/thrifty-thursday-week-25/

Retail Therapy: Fall Wardrobe Staples Under $30 (ish)

Are you ready for fall?

I AM!

Recently I picked up a few things to help out my fall wardrobe.

Just a couple things to give it a little “umph.”

Some of the things I purchased came from the Like Twice online consignment store which I reviewed a few weeks ago. I still LOVE it.

Then I perused the Old Navy website for some dresses.

I purchased this baby.

I love the cut and the zipper. I will wear it with a cardigan while it’s warm and then black turtle neck and tights when gets cold.

And I have an addiction to black and white stripes.

Super cute and versatile.

Women’s Striped Ponte-Knit Fit & Flare Dress, $26

Then I picked up this dress too because I can’t help myself when it comes to polka dots.

Women’s Dotted Color-Block Crepe Dress, $29

I purchased some nude fishnet stockings because #1 I like saying “I purchased stockings.”

And #2 they give an outfit a youthful polish without having to wear actual nude colored pantyhose which I have not done since college and don’t ever plan to do again.

They also give your legs a little color even after the effects of a summer tan have worn off.

The nude fishnets are out of stock online but when I purchased them in the store they had lots in stock.

Fishnet Tights, $10

And while I was at JcPenneys, I picked up a pair of jean leggings and I am loving them!

 I have tried every kind out there and these are by far the best.

They give you a skinny jean look without sucking the life out of you.

Super cute and opaque (unlike the ones in this post and this post).

And they really are classy enough that I have worn them to work (I work in a casual office).

Denim Knit Leggings, $20

I also spotted this blouse at Cost Plus World Market a few weeks ago.

GREEN EMBROIDERED KIMBRA DRESS, $36 plus 15% off coupon

And last but not least I picked up this super versatile top from amazon.com.

Elan Women’s Flutter Sleeve Top, $37

To find any or all of these products online just click the photo.

Thanks for reading and Happy Friday!

Semi-Homemade Summer Party

I had some close female friends and family over for a little get together Monday evening after work.

I promised to serve them some good desserts.

But I didn’t have time to make a ton of fun food.

So I improvised.

A little store bought and a little semi-homemade.

And I proved that you don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to host a successful party.

PS. my table “runner” is a fun ladies scarf from Target ($14.99) and I hijacked the palm leaves from a tree in my office for the centerpieces (shh don’t tell).

Dessert Party

dessert party 4

dessert party 3
Click here for info on Cookie Kiln. She ships her cookies all over the US! Tell her Rene’ sent you.

dessert party 5

dessert party 6
I had to take a picture of my cousin’s watermelon manicure. So fun :)

 

Dessert Pary
Everyone enjoyed the cookies from Cookie Kiln

Here are a few of the “recipes” I used.

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Rene’s Semi-Homemade Strawberry Lemonade Cake

  • 1 box strawberry cake mix
  • 1 box lemon cake mix
  • 1 recipe of lemon cream cheese frosting (see below)
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries, frozen (but defrosted) or fresh

Prepare each cake mix according to the box instructions.

Bake in four greased 8 or 9 inch round cake pans. Do NOT over bake.

Once baked, carefully remove the cakes from the pans and place on cooling racks. Let the cakes cool completely.

While the cakes cool, prepare the frosting.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

adapted from allrecipes.com

  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 4- 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Place all ingredients in a bowl. Using a stand or hand mixer, mix on high until the frosting is completely smooth.

To assemble the cake, place the first layer on a cake stand or large plate. Add 1/3 cup strawberries to the top of the first layer. Place the next layer on top and repeat until all the layers are stacked.

Using all the frosting, ice the cake, starting with the sides and then finishing with the top.

Enjoy!

Best if made 1-2 days in advance. Store in the refrigerator.

If you are unsure of how to stack or frost a layered cake click here for a tutorial by Real Simple.

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Rene’s Citrus-Ade Party Punch

  • 1 lemon, washed
  • 1 lime, washed
  • 1 orange, washed
  • 2 cans of frozen lemonade concentrate, defrosted
  • 2 can of frozen limeade concentrate, defrosted
  • 1 can of frozen orange juice concentrate, defrosted
  • 2 gallons water

Slice all the fruit (discard the ends). Place in the freezer until ready to serve. The frozen fruit will act as “ice cubes.”

In a large beverage dispenser, combine all the concentrates and water. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Once ready to serve, simply stir the water and concentrates and add the frozen fruit.

Enjoy!

Variation: Use sparkling water in place of the tap water.

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If you like these recipes, please pin the photos on pinterest. It’s like tipping a blogger.:)

Happy Friday.

And have a great weekend!

Link party, http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2013/08/08/thrifty-thursday-week-22/

Monday Randomness: Tile, Toddler, and Treats

I can’t believe it’s Monday, and I sure can’t believe it’s August.

Not that I am complaining…come on Fall.

But we had a busy weekend once again.

My 2 yr old niece stayed with us this weekend while her parents’ celebrated their anniversary. My teenage stepsons were a hoot with her. She kept us busy, but it was fun.

twists 022

twists 009

twists 012

I finally finished all the buying for a decorating project for a client of mine. I still need the schedule the install date but at least I have all the accessories and furniture purchased. Wanna hire me? Just contact my at my email address hrpinteriors@yahoo.com.

Currently, I am shedding orange-tinged body dandruff because of sunburn on our trip to MI. Why is it orange tinged? Because I had the bright idea of rubbing sunless tanner on my body in hopes of retaining some of my sun-kissed skin. But instead I just look like a freak show with orange dandruff.

Update on the basement: We still need to put some final touches on the basement overhaul; but thankfully, it’s almost done. Before/after pictures coming.

Sunday, we attended church and then our life group in the evening. I took some of the new buffalo chicken dip that Publix is stocking because let’s face it. I didn’t have time to make anything.

I also concocted a strawberry lemonade cake on Saturday evening because….

 I am having female family over to my house tonight for some summer treats and girl time. I hope I am ready for them by seven tonight because when I left for work this morning at 8 I was not. Maybe a party fairy will come visit the house while I am at work…doubtful, because I don’t believe in the tooth fairy either.

And our bathroom renovation project is moving right along except for the fact that we changed our mind on the color of the tile. So I had to return it all and get a lighter color. Hopefully tiling will be in full swing in the next two weeks….I am not a slave driver I promise.

But I may be slightly crazy, but just the nice kind of crazy.

Happy Monday.

PS. If you have not tried this recipe for my  Brown Rice Broccoli Chicken Cheese Bake yet you should. It’s gone viral on Pinterest and is getting great reviews.

brown rice broccoli 15

brown rice broccoli 18

brown rice broccoli 20