Menu Plan Monday: January 13 – 19, 2014


Menu planning is something I started a little over 2 years ago in order to help with the crazy weeknight routine. At that time, both my husband and I were working full-time jobs, both kids were in daycare all day, and we were spending way too much money on take-out and pizza. Something had to give! It was so nice to come home from work and not have to worry about what we were going to eat, where we were going to get it, or how much money it would take.

Now that I’m no longer working outside of the home, I have more time for cooking, but the budget is more of a concern. Planning out each week’s menu is a huge help when you’re working with a budget. I typically do all of the shopping for the week on one trip, whereas I used to pop into the store after work up to 4 times a week to get what we needed, spending more money each trip. If you plan your menu around what’s on sale at the stores, you can save even more money, but I’m still working up to that.

Now, on to this week’s menu!

January  13 – 19

What are you cooking up this week?

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Getting Organized: My New Blog Planner


When I decided to start blogging again with a new blog and everything, I decided I was going to do it right and be organized from the get-go. I’m working on setting goals and planning things better in order to be more successful. So, I decided I needed a nifty blog planner. The search began.

If you’ve ever looked on Pinterest for a Blog Planner, you’ll know what I mean when I saw “Holy Cow!”. There are lots of free printables out there, all beautifully designed and useful…and did I mention FREE? Lots of bloggers have a hard time finding a planner that works for them, so they design their own, then offer it for free to other bloggers. I love this.

After clicking through and checking out quite a few different planners, I finally found on that spoke to me: The 2014 Monthly Blog Planner from Confessions of a Homeschooler.


Isn’t it pretty? I’m so tickled with how it turned out. I pretty much stuck with how it was laid out; there’s the month-at-a-glance calendar, and a page for each month to keep track of stats, jot down notes and ideas, and inspiring websites.


There are also entire sections devoted to Giveaways & Reviews, Advertising, and Brainstorming & Notes. I printed lots of the Notes pages so I wouldn’t have to use a separate notebook to jot ideas down (I have about 5 different notebooks I use regularly, because I can never seem to find the one I’m looking for!).


I did add a few other pages from A Well Crafted Party: tracking sheets for blog finances, sponsors, affiliates, and collaborations.That’s what I love about putting together my own planner: I can add other pages I need, and leave out the pages I don’t.

So, once I determined which pages I wanted, and figured out the placement, I printed them all out on my printer. Next time I do something like this, I’ll use a heavier stock of paper, but other than that, I think it turned out great. I also added some divider pages that I printed on cardstock. Then I put everything together, and stuffed it all in a manila folder.

In her original post, Erica of Confessions of a Homeschooler mentioned that she took her printed planner to Staples to have it bound. AWESOME idea. I took my folder to the Staples Copy and Print Center and had my planner bound with a navy blue spiral coil, and also added a clear front cover and a nice rigid back cover, also in navy blue. Love.It. It looks so professional, and I’m almost giddy with excitement. Can you tell I like office products? Best part? The binding and covers only cost a little over $4.

While I was at Staples, I picked up Post-It Tabs to label the sections. Super easy, and it’ll make everything easier to find.


I’m so excited to use this planner throughout the year! Hopefully it’ll keep me on track, and help me to stay motivated to keep blogging.

Erica also has a complete 2014 Daily Planner that I purchased, and will be putting that together soon! I’m excited about that one, too.

Buying in Bulk: Saving Money with #10 Cans



I’m always on the lookout for ways to save money, especially now that we’re a single-income family. I use coupons, I shop at warehouse clubs, I shop the sales, and I buy store brand products when I can (at least the good ones). Grocery prices just seem to keep going up; just yesterday I noticed that our favorite brand of bread is now over $3 per loaf. The store brand of the same variety of bread is $1.99. That’s a no-brainer. And that particular store brand bread is very good. I love Publix.

Something I’ve been contemplating for a while is buying more things in bulk. I love shopping at Sam’s, and do so regularly, but I generally buy the same things every time. I have been buying the large pack of single-serving applesauce cups for a while now, and the kids love them. On my most recent shopping trip, I noticed that the price had gone up to $10.68 for 36-4 ounce cups. That’s $.30 a cup, or $.07 an ounce. Not too bad, I guess, since it’s healthy-ish, and they never last long in our house.


A while ago I noticed a #10 can of applesauce for only $4.48. If you don’t know what a #10 can is, it’s A LOT of food stuffed into a large can. In this case, it’s the White House brand of applesauce, and the can is 108 ounces. Doing a little math here, you can get 27-4 ounce cups of applesauce out of this can. For only $4.48 for the huge can, it works out to $.17 a cup, or $.04 an ounce. Ummm, I think I’ll skip the convenience and go for the giant can. I tossed one in the cart today.


The next question, and the reason I hadn’t bought one of these cans before now, was how in the world are we going to eat all of this applesauce before it goes bad? Answer: small containers! I made my own single-serving cups of applesauce in my small, 4 ounce Rubbermaid containers. Four ounces is the size of the other brand’s individual cups, so the kids are used to this amount. Plus, it’s a regular serving size anyway.

I spooned applesauce into 6 small cups, and tossed those in the fridge. Since I only had 6 of the small cups, I spooned applesauce into a larger 3 cup container to keep in the fridge in order to refill the the small ones as they empty (after washing, of course). This amount should keep us happy for a while.

And of course, I didn’t want to waste what was left in the can, so I filled up a freezer bag with the remaining applesauce and tossed that in the freezer. Phew! That was a lot of applesauce.

So what does a #10 can of applesauce look like all divided up? Here’s a visual:


I know the savings is only $.03 an ounce, but you’re also saving on packaging. The containers that you use are ones that you’ll use over and over, instead of just tossing them in the recycling bin. And, in the long run, it’ll all add up. Don’t be afraid of the giant cans! I think my next adventure with #10 cans will be with ketchup. My kids eat that stuff like candy.

Essential Oil of the Month: Peppermint


Essential oils can be used for so many different things, so I thought I might start sharing some great uses of a different oil each month. This month, it’s Peppermint!

Peppermint has long been used as a digestive aid; why do you think so many restaurants offer peppermint candies as you leave? It helps settle the stomach after a meal, and can improve digestion. Here’s a list of other uses:

  • Motion sickness: rub onto your abdomen (you may want to use a carrier oil and do a bit of massage), and on the inside of your wrists
  • Add to your diffuser or place 1-2 drops onto a tissue and inhale to help avoid snacking
  • Massage a few drops onto your temples and on the back of your neck to help relieve headaches
  • Use the tissue method to help improve concentration and to increase mental accuracy and memory
  • Add a few drops to a cotton ball and rub along window frames and doorjams to repel bugs and pests, including mice. You can also just leave the cotton ball in corners of cabinets and pantries. I have two under my sink! You can also mix with water in a spray bottle and spray in nooks and crannies to keep away those annoying pests; make sure you shake the bottle before spraying
  • Inhale to help with nausea and after vomiting to help sooth the stomach
  • Mix a drop of peppermint oil with a bit of lavender to soothe the itch of sunburn; cool and refreshing!
  • Tired feet? Add peppermint to a carrier oil and massage your cares away
  • If you need a pick-me-up, inhale from a tissue and get a non-stimulant boost of energy
  • Add a few drops to a carrier oil and massage onto chest to help clear sinus and lung congestion

These are just a few of the many uses for Peppermint Oil. I may just have to add a drop to my ice water for an afternoon boost.

If you’re interested in receiving a new essential oil each month, Spark Naturals has an Oil of the Month Club! Each month they’ll send you a new oil for only $15.99, shipping and tax included. This is a great way to build your collection.


Tasty Tuesday: Montreal Chicken

It’s Tasty Tuesday! Each Tuesday I’ll feature a favorite recipe that’s been approved by my family. I try really hard to cook most nights, and it’s always fun to try something new.
This week: Montreal Chicken. My friend Jennifer discovered how easy and delicious this dish is, and I had to try it.

Here’s what you need:

  • McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Chicken Seasoning
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts – I used three rather large pieces for the 4 of us
  • Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • About 2 tbsp of butter or margarine



First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease your baking dish with Pam, just in case.

Coat both sides of each chicken breast lightly with Lawry’s, then again with the Monterey Chicken seasoning. Place in dish.


Put a little splap (it’s a technical term) of butter or margarine on each chicken breast.


That’s it! Put them in the oven for about 35 minutes or until the juices run clear, then serve and enjoy! Tonight we had rice and veggies on the side, but of course any side will do.


Check back each Tuesday for a tasty new recipe! Do you have a new recipe? I’d love to hear it!

Tasty Weeknight Recipe: Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Photo Courtesy of
This meatloaf recipe is a favorite of the whole family! When I make it, I generally double the batch so I have an extra meatloaf to stash in the freezer.
Cheeseburger Meatloaf

1 lb. ground beef
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup uncooked regular oats (I had to substitute crushed Ritz crackers – still yummy!)
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. minced onion (I used chopped raw onion)
1 large egg
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 dry mustard
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup chili sauce (I substituted barbecue sauce instead)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first 11 ingredients in a large bowl; stir just until blended. Shape mixture into a loaf, and place in an ungreased 8×4-inch loafpan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Pour chili or barbecue sauce over meat loaf, and bake 40 more minutes or until meat is no longer pink in center. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain and cut into 8 slices.

To freeze: If you used meat that had not yet been frozen, you can freeze this uncooked. When you’re ready to eat, thaw, and follow the instructions above for cooking.

If your meat had already been frozen, bake without chili sauce on top. Freeze. When you’re ready to eat, thaw meatloaf. Pour chili sauce (or BBQ sauce) on top and heat in oven until hot.

—> Shannon’s Note -> Freezer Packaging: Form into loaf, then wrap in plastic wrap. Wrap again in foil, label, and toss in the freezer. If I’m making a batch for the freezer, I like to use the disposable foil loaf pans..

— Recipe and photo courtesy of Money Saving Mom

Getting Started with Essential Oils


Getting started with Essential Oils is easier than you might think. There are so many great resources out there; all it takes is a little reading! The first step I took, aside from reading blogs and other information on the internet, was ordering The Complete Book or Essential Oils & Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood. This book is an awesome resource, and I refer to it almost daily. There are recipes for beauty, health, and even things for your home like all-natural cleaners.

But which oils should I start with, and what can I do with them? I recommend starting with the most popular oils: Melaleuca (or Tea Tree), Lavender, Lemon, and Peppermint. So many basic recipes call for one or more of these oils, so you can’t go wrong. All four of these oils are versatile, user-friendly, affordable, and good for all members of the family.

Here are some quick uses for these oils:


  • Apply to feet to combat athlete’s foot or any fungal infection
  • Diffuse or use steam inhalation to help with congestion or other respiratory ailments
  • Apply directly to cuts and scrapes to disinfect the wound and promote healing


  • Apply directly to burns to take the sting away – keep some in the kitchen!
  • Got an itchy bug bite? Apply a drop of lavender
  • Add to bath to aid in relaxation, and lessen anxiety


  • Diffuse to cleanse the air and enhance moods
  • Great for cleaning and disinfecting around the house
  • Gargle with warm water to help clean your mouth


  • Rub a few drops on your temples to ease tension
  • Dilute with a carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil, and rub on abdomen to aid with stomach discomfort
  • Diffuse to help with congestion

These are just a few suggestions on how to use these oils. There are so many more ways to use them! If you’re new to oils, and would like to try these out but don’t want to spend a fortune, Spark Naturals has a kit to get you started! The Essential 4-Pack includes all four oils at a great price. And, don’t forget to enter the coupon code SMOORE to save 10%. And, right now you can even get free shipping on any order! Don’t pass up this opportunity.



My Essential Oil Journey – The Beginning


For many years I relied on doctors and what they prescribed without a second thought when a healthcare issue arose. I didn’t think about there being another way to heal common problems such as colds, allergies, the flu, as well as minor injuries like bug bites and scrapes.. It wasn’t until about a year ago when I was reading a book in which the main character, a nurse, was transported back in time and was forced to find her own methods of healing, as modern medicine was no longer available to her. I started thinking more on the subject of home remedies, and how I might incorporate some new remedies into our home. Through this research, I discovered Essential Oils and now I’m hooked!

There are so many different oils, and so many ways to use them all, I’m just amazed. I’m still learning, and always looking for more great resources. There are tons of blogs out there, and I’ve found one in particular, Camp Wander, that’s provided me with so much information and help. Rebecca has a remedy for practically everything, and reading through these remedies has really piqued my interest. I’ve been trying out some things here and there, and have many more recipes and ideas to try.

If you’re looking to get started using essential oils, Spark Naturals is a great place to get your oils. Spark offers reasonably priced, therapeutic-grade oils, and you don’t have to join an MLM to get them.

The first oil I purchased was Melaleuca, or Tea Tree Oil. This oil has so many uses, it’s a must-have in your medicine cabinet! It’s anti-fungal, antimicrobial, and antiviral. My husband has used it on his feet for athlete’s foot flare-ups, without complaint (and that says a lot!). I’ve also been using it lately to help prevent and treat colds and flu.

I’ll be posting more about oils and their uses, so be sure to check back!


New Year, New Blog


It’s a new year, and time to get started on a few goals. I’ve been wanting to blog more for a while, but felt I was limited to crafting on my old blog. So, it’s time to Get S’Moore in 2014! Crafting, homekeeping, kid stuff, recipes, home remedies…all that and more will be coming soon. Stay tuned!