A Denver Family's Adventure Through The Ups And Downs of Life

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pantry Challenge- The End

I didn't adhere to the Pantry Challenge to the letter. There were times that I forgot to thaw something or thought that I had ingredients that I didn't have, so I had to head to the store for random items, but I KNOW that I saved money this month.

Here were our family’s goals for the “Eat From The Pantry Challenge”

  • To build my menus from what we have in the freezers and pantry.
  • To stop at the store a maximum of three times in January.
  • To only buy dairy (milk, eggs, cheese, etc.), produce (fruits/vegetables), and bread.
  • To spend a total of $150 or less on groceries during the month of January.
  • Donate the extra money that we would usually spend on groceries to Sam’s college fund.
Here's what we accomplished.
  • To build my menus from what we have in the freezers and pantry. - Mostly Complete
  • To stop at the store a maximum of three times in January. - I think it ended up being 5 times
    Linked to Good Cheap Eats
  • To only buy dairy (milk, eggs, cheese, etc.), produce (fruits/vegetables), and bread.- Mostly Complete
  • To spend a total of $150 or less on groceries during the month of January.- I'm pretty sure the total was right around that.
  • Donate the extra money that we would usually spend on groceries to Sam’s college fund.- We are going to put the extra $150 that we didn't spend this month in the college fund.
We are probably going to continue this, informally, since we are planning on putting our house on the market in a month. I'd love to use a lot of what's in there now, so that it doesn't look as packed.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Week #4- The SUV-- COMPLETE!!

I'm happy that I didn't put off this project any further. I'm definitely happy with how it turned out.

Before Photos

After Photos
TIP: Always have a trash bag in your vehicle.

Bag at left is for reusable bags.

Blanket, backpack filled with toys and car seat tray.

If you are wondering why I left the small crate on the floor; Sam uses it to climb up onto his cars eat, so I don't have to carry him.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Week #4- The SUV

I have decided that my SUV is the next organizing project I'm going to tackle. With a 2 year old, there are toys, hats, a blanket, games, graham cracker crumbs, and who knows what else in my backseat. The back of the SUV is filled with a stroller, workout clothes, jumper cables and reusable bags.

I need a method for this madness.

I would show you some photos today, but my husband has the SUV because it's his turn to take Sam to his speech therapy appointment. I'll take some tonight and post the before and after photos this weekend.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Operation Minimize- Year #2 (21-33)

I haven't been able to find the breakdown of the items that I donated to Goodwill, but last night, I went through more of my closet and took another bag to ARC on my way to work this morning.

4 Pair of Dress Pants
1 Pair of Jeans
2 Dress Shirts
1 Hoodie
2 T-Shirts
1 Sweatshirt
1 Workout Shirt

12 Items

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Operation Minimize- Year #2 (1-**)

Computer Nerd for "Minimize"
Now that we have decided to put our house on the market, and move to the other side of town, I don't think that we will have a huge problem purging 2,012 items from our home in 2012.

My guess is that we will be agle to get rid of at least that many items before the end of June.

Here is the first few items that I donated to ARC.

2 Cloth Belts
3 Lazy Susan's
3 Shot Glasses
1 Personal Digital Assistant (without software)
3 Computer Games
8 CD's

20 Items

I also donated items to Goodwill, but the list disappeared. I'll update the count on the next posting.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pantry Challenge- Week #4

2012 January Pantry Challenge- Week #4

My weekly menu never seems to go as planned, so we are moving the Chicken and Black Bean Quesadillas to tonight and tomorrow night. We also had to change our Saturday and Sunday night dinners because we celebrated my husband's mother's birthday on Saturday by going to Carrabba's. Yummy!!

There was no way that I was passing that up.

Sunday - Carrabba's leftovers
Monday- Chicken and Black Bean Quesadillas 
Tuesday- Quesadillas leftovers
Wednesday- Pork Ribs (thawing right now)
Thursday- Breakfast for Dinner
Friday- Chicken or Beef
Saturday- Chicken or Beef

Link to another Menu Plan

Good Cheap Eats

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week #3- The Loft (To Be Continued)

I was hoping to get more done than was actually accomplished, but it's definitely 1,000% than it looked like on Friday. Hopefully, I can finish the rest this week and still move onto another project this coming weekend.

HERE is how it looked before. Here is the middle shots.

My wedding bouquet, husband's boutonniere and the glass that we broke.
The TV should be trashed (at Best Buy) on Saturday, the plastic bin will head to the basement along with the dresser, by the end of the week.

I haven't decided our next project, but it will more than likely be our living room.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Christmas Decorations! Still! Really!!

Whenever I see homes around town that still have the Christmas decorations still up, I have been rolling my eyes.

Of course, that's before I realized that we still has a few items outside our front door.

99.99% of the time, I enter our house through the garage, after pulling in my SUV. My husband is the one that comes in the front door. Yesterday, he reminded me that our wreath and a Merry Christmas sign were hanging right outside our front door.

They have since been removed and I can now continue to roll my eyes.

Have a very happy Friday and a great weekend!!

Week #3- The Loft

Our Week #3 project (The Loft) has been a dumping ground and sore spot within our home for years. We use the loft in a lot of different ways- there is a TV, our computer and desk, and we also have some of Sam's toys and books in there.

Until we get close to putting our house on the market, we will be leaving the TV and chaise where it is. Until then, everything else needs to be cleaned off, sorted, purged and a new system of document storage devised.

 I'm embarrassed to post these, but this is our reality. But it won't be for long!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Week #2- Command Center

I was planning on working on organization our Command Center (a centralized place for notes, schedules, contact information, etc.), but this is one of the weeks that I am skipping.

We have some breaking news!!
We spent all weekend driving to the other end of town (Broomfield and Westminster, CO) looking for a new house. Our current location's school district is sub par and we want to make sure that Samuel has the great educational start that we would like him to have. In my initial research, that means Jefferson R-1 or Adams 12 school district.

We have already spoken with our real estate agent, Judy White, and had our credit pulled and some initial loan numbers reviewed. As long as we can sell our house (which we will be utilizing the 52 Weeks Of Decluttering Project), we are hoping to buy this Spring/Summer.

Part of our 52 Weeks will be staging our home, purging tons of items and putting the rest in storage during the showing/selling process to make our house look its best.

Please stay tuned to our next adventure and cleaning project this weekend, our loft.

2012 January Pantry Challenge- Week #3

2012 January Pantry Challenge- Week #3

My husband wanted something different than what I had planned, so we diverted from the pantry challenge on Sunday and tonight, but we are getting back on track.

Sunday - Chinese Takeout
Monday- Chinese Takeout leftovers
Tuesday- Kathy's Delicious Whole Slow Cooker Chicken (except it will be frozen)
Wednesday- Chicken leftovers
Thursday- Venison Steaks with seasoning
Friday- Chicken and Black Bean Quesadillas (Thanks OrgJunkie)
Saturday- Quesadillas leftovers

Link to another Menu Plan

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

101 Things in 1,001 Days Update- Already

I have already completed 1 item and have 6 in process. Please click on the following link to view my progress on the 2012 101 Things in 1,001 Days Project.

Here is the full list.


1. Get a massage- 5 times
2. Get a pedicure- 5 times
3. Get acupuncture
4. Win a photography contest with a cash prize
5. Take a Photoshop class
6. Buy and drink an expensive bottle of wine (> $100)
7. Get another tattoo (if #61 is completed)
8. Get a new job

9. Go to a concert
10. Have 2 no TV weekends
11. Try at least 10 new wines
12. Take a cooking class.
13. Attend a dinner theater
14. Make a Christmas tree ornament
15. Make Christmas cookies from scratch for Brian and Sam
16. Make Christmas cards
17. Plant a tree
18. Drive a convertible with the top down

19. Sew blackout curtains for Sam’s room
20. Sew child blanket that I’ve had for years
21. Make Sam Christmas jammies one year
22. Complete at least 1 art project with Sam each month

23. Fly a kite
24. Produce at least one scrapbook page of our family once a month
25. Update family blog once a month
26. Go on a picnic.
27. Go GeoCaching
28. Go to a theme park
29. Go horseback riding
30. Go to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Colorado Springs)
31. Go to a Broncos regular season game
32. Visit 6 different museums
33. Take Sam to the park at least twice a month during nice weather
34. Get a family portrait done each year

35. Make 5 new friends
36. Go out with friends 10 times
37. Entertain friends at our house five times

38. Pay off more debt
39. Get a safety deposit box
40. Make a will
41. Max out Roth IRA at least 1 year

42. Get down to 170 pounds
43. Run a full marathon
44. Snowboard at least three times
45. Take a self-defense course

Healthy Mind & Body
46. Shop for fruits and veggies at our local farmer’s market once a month during the summers
47. Floss every day for a month
48. Volunteer once a week for three months
49. Donate blood twice

Organization/ House
50. Have Brian build basement shelves
51. Have Brian build a patio
52. Install double sink in upstairs bathroom
53. Clean out basement- Purge items & Build shelves
54. Have Brian build craft area for sewing and scrapbooking
55. Complete Command Center in Kitchen
56. Paint family room
57. Organize DVDs and put away those that are too old for Sam
58. Clean and organize pantry quarterly
59. Organize master bedroom closet
60. Organize coat closet
61. Organize garage and have Brian build shelves

62. Get back to OH for a visit
63. Visit my sister in Philadelphia
64. Visit my father outside of a holiday
65. Ride the Durango/Silverton train
66. Go rafting
67. Visit one state I’ve never been to (AK, AL, IA, MS, ND, VT, WI)
68. Renew my passport with my married name
69. Take Brian and Sam to NYC
70. Go away for one of our wedding anniversaries
71. Go camping 6 times
72. Road trip to just take pictures
73. Visit 8 State Parks or Forests

Watch American Film Institute Movies
74. Lawrence of Arabia- AFI Rank 5
75. The African Queen- AFI Rank 17
76. Chinatown- AFI Rank 19
77. High Noon- AFI Rank 33
78. Doctor Zhivago- AFI Rank 39
79. The Birth of a Nation- AFI Rank 44
80. A Clockwork Orange- AFI Rank 46
81. Amadeus- AFI Rank 53
82. All Quiet on the Western Front- AFI Rank 54
83. The Third Man- AFI Rank 57
84. Stagecoach- AFI Rank 63
85. An American in Paris- AFI Rank 68
86. Shane- AFI Rank 69
87. Wuthering Heights- AFI Rank 73
88. The Gold Rush- AFI Rank 74
89. City Lights- AFI Rank 76
90. The Wild Bunch- AFI Rank 80
91. Modern Times- AFI Rank 81
92. Watch Mutiny on the Bounty- AFI Rank 86
93. Frankenstein- AFI Rank 87
94. The Jazz Singer- AFI Rank 90
95. My Fair Lady- AFI Rank 91
96. The Searchers- AFI Rank 96
97. Complete scrapbook of advice cards from wedding
98. Complete scrapbook of all wedding activities
99. Donate $2.00 to charity for each task that isn’t completed (charity to be determined and updated at a later time)
100. As I complete each task, write about my accomplishments, set-backs, experiences, etc.
101. Make a new list of 101 Things to Do by the time my 1001 days are done

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pantry Challenge Progress

So far, I have had to make some small changes to menus for the Pantry Challenge, but nothing Earth shattering. The changes were mostly running out of a meal and having to add another one or having more of an item to have for an extra day.

The later is what has occurred this week. We have enough of the Crock Pot Chicken to have another meal tonight. I'm going to use it to make enchiladas. This will push everything else back a day, but we are still on target to use items that we have on-hand to complete our meals.

I thought that we had pork available, but it was labeled incorrectly. It's actually beef and it probably won't last the full 2 days, so Iove made that change in the new menu.

Original Menu
Sunday - Whole Chicken Crock Pot Recipe

Monday- Chicken leftovers
Tuesday- Venison Steaks
Wednesday- Pork (I'm not sure how I'm going to cook it)
Thursday- Pork leftovers
Friday- Chicken and Veggie Pasta
Saturday- Chicken and Veggie Pasta leftovers

Adjusted Menu

Sunday - Whole Chicken Crock Pot Recipe
Monday- Chicken leftovers
Tuesday- Chicken enchiladas
Wednesday- Venison Steaks
Thursday- Beef (I thought it was pork)
Friday- Diced Chicken and Veggie Pasta
Saturday- Diced Chicken and Veggie Pasta leftovers

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Week #1- Pantry

This year, I am participating in a project that I found last year and (somewhat) participated in- 52 Weeks of Organizing.

This year, I'm going to be more deliberate about partaking in this project on a consistent basis so that our family clutter does not get out of control again.

Week #1- Our Pantry

mess   /mɛs/ Show Spelled[mes] 
  1. a dirty, untidy, or disordered condition: The room was in a mess. 
  2. a state of embarrassing confusion: My affairs are in a mess. 
  3. a dirty or untidy mass, litter, or jumble: a mess of papers.
The initial (embarrassing) state of our pantry.
Last year, I emptied out our pantry and found items that were expired from 2006, thinned out our cookbooks to the ones we actually use and moved lesser used items to boxes above our cabinets or in the basement.

Unfortunately, without specific, labeled areas for an item's location, the mess returned.

I purchased a lot of plastic containers ($3 and $1 each from our local King Soopers and Walmart store) and used some copy paper boxes (that I will cover in scrapbook paper to look pretty) to organize areas within the pantry where items would reside. 

In looking at the contents of our pantry, I noticed some common items that could be housed together and found THESE tags for them to be printed.
  • Baking
  • Spices
  • Pasta
  • Beans
  • Soups
  • Vegetables
  • Snacks
  • Tea
  • Canned meats
  • Medicine 
  • Notebooks
  • Stationery/Envelopes/Return labels
  • Cookbooks
  • Water bottles
  • Art Supplies
  • Markers/Crayons
  • Plus Many More 
Besides marrying my husband and giving birth to my son, this is one of my biggest accomplishments. I think that now with everything in bins, this is something that I may have to revisit very rarely.

Next Week (Week #2)- Command Center

Home Stories A2Z

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 January Pantry Challenge- Week #2

I'm so glad that I cleaned out the freezers. There are so many items that I found that would be so yummy.

Here is my menu for week #2

Sunday - Whole Chicken Crock Pot Recipe
Monday- Chicken leftovers 
Tuesday- Venison Steaks
Wednesday- Pork (I'm not sure how I'm going to cook it)
Thursday- Pork leftovers
Friday- Chicken and Veggie Pasta
Saturday- Chicken and Veggie Pasta leftovers

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Day Broncos Football

For Brian's Christmas present, I purchased 2 tickets to the New Year's Day Broncos game.

We had great seats, the weather was pretty nice (since we were dressed properly), and there was a lot of energy in our section.

The only downside, was that the Broncos lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Our Seats Were AWESOME!!!!

Happy New Year!! and 2012 Pantry Challenge Update

Last Night's Pasta with Meatballs- Yummy!
I already have to update the Pantry Challenge Menu in the first week.

Current Menu Plan for January 1-7

Sunday- Lunch @ Broncos Football game
              Dinner- Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
Monday- Turkey Chili leftovers
Tuesday- Pasta with Meatballs
Wednesday- Pork Tenderloin and broccoli
Thursday- Pork Tenderloin leftovers
Friday- Salsa Chicken, rice and brussel sprouts
Saturday- Lunch- Lunchmeat sandwiches
                Dinner- Salsa Chicken leftovers

Unfortunately, the Turkey Chili recipe did not serve the quantity of servings as stated, so we are going to have to make some adjustments to the menu. Also, I found a Beef Round Roast in the basement freezer that I wanted to use this week instead of the Pork Tenderloin.

Updated Menu Plan for January 1-7

Sunday- Lunch @ Broncos Football game
                Dinner- Quick Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
Monday- Pasta with Meatballs
Tuesday- Pasta with Meatballs Leftovers
Wednesday- Crock Pot Roast and broccoli
Thursday- Crock Pot Roast leftovers
Friday- Salsa Chicken, rice and brussel sprouts
Saturday- Lunch- Lunchmeat sandwiches
                   Dinner- Salsa Chicken leftovers