Jul 16

Bug Bite Relief and Budget Meals

I’ve been having a lot of luck using Life in the Lofthouse for meal ideas, but lately we have found ourselves needing meals that will last for a few days.  We have three meals on the menu this week and those three meals will feed us for the entire week.  Our meals for the week are lasagna, pizza casserole, and chicken and rice casserole.

A few months ago I posted my first Lasagna success and referenced this site, for amateur lasagna makers, but I stumbled upon this site that gave me some new ideas.  Here is my lasagna recipe:


1lb ground beef

1lb ground sausage

1 onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

4 garlic gloves, diced

1 jar canned tomatoes (a 28oz can of plum tomatoes will work if you don’t have canned tomatoes)

28oz tomato sauce

12oz tomato paste

ground pepper

red pepper flakes

Italian seasoning


1/4 cup of sugar

Brown your beef and sausage.  When the meet is nearly finished, drain the meat and add the onions, green peppers, and garlic. Let that cook for another 5 minutes or so until the meat is cooked through and the onions are translucent.  Take the saute pan off the heat and put a  sauce pot on the hot eye. Put the meat mixture in the pot and add the jar of tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Stir well on medium heat and when the sauce begins to bubble a bit add the pepper, red pepper flakes, salt and Italian seasoning.  Taste the sauce and add spices as needed. Allow the sauce to bubble for a few more minutes and add the sugar.  I add a full 1/4 cup, but you can add it a little at a time to get it to the taste that you like. Reduce the heat and cover.  Allow the sauce to cook for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, fill a large pot with salted water and a healthy amount of olive. When it begins to boil add the lasagna noodles and let them cook for 7 or 8 minutes until they are cooked through. Cover a cookie sheet in paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and place the lasagna noodles on the sheet to dry.


15oz Cottage Cheese

1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese

2 eggs, beaten

1 Tablespoon olive oil

4 Cups Mozzarella Cheese

Place a cotton towel or cloth in your colander and pour cottage cheese into the colander and allow any excess fluid to drain through the towel. Put the drained cottage cheese in a bowl and add the Parmesan cheese, eggs, and olive oil. Mix well.

Your lasagna will be three layers deep:

Place 4 noodles on the bottom of your large casserole dish. Top with the cheese mix, then with the meat sauce, and top that with mozzarella cheese. Top that with 4 more noodles, followed by the cheese mix, the meet sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Follow that pattern one more time, and then finally top with 4 noodles and some more mozzarella cheese.

Cover with foil and cook at 425 degrees for 30  minutes. Uncover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes.  It tastes great and lasted us for three days.  There was even sauce left over.

Photo Courtesy of foodlve.com My lasagna was not this pretty

Pizza Casserole:

My husband cooked up some egg noodles and covered the noodles with the rest of the meat sauce that was left over from our lasagna. He topped that with a layer of pepperoni and shredded cheese (the Mexican mix).  He was able to fill two medium casserole dishes.  When we were ready to eat it, we pulled it out of the fridge and put it in the over for 30 minutes on 350 degrees.

My husband is making the chicken and rice casserole too, and he hasn’t made it yet.  I will try to remember to add it to the blog once he’s cooked.  Maybe this time I’ll even manage to take a picture of the finished product.


I get together with a girlfriend of mine every Tuesday and we enjoy a girls night out.  We usually meet at a local Mexican Restaurant and take turns paying the bill.  But this week, we were both broke, so she came to my house and we watched TV, chatted and enjoyed some pizza casserole.  She’s been working on starting her own photography company, and takes some amazing pictures.  Sunday morning she went to the beach to take some pictures and got eaten up by sand fleas.  Even with her anti-itch cream she was scratching so bad she was bruising herself and making herself bleed.  I hopped onto Camp Wander to see what she had to say about itch relief and found this article with solutions to spider bites, mosquito bites, and gnat bites.  Camp Wander references spark naturals, her favorite source for essential oils.  They offer blends like an allergy blend or stress relief blend, that have essential oils pre-mixed to make it easier to create your remedies. It’s a great resource, but I’ve spent all the money I want to spend on essential oils for the time being, and I needed to be able to make an itch relief remedy with the stuff I had on hand.

Using Camp Wander’s solution as a guide I put a  1/2 cup of coconut oil into a small mason jar and added 4 to 5 drops each of Lavender, Lemongrass, and Peppermint Essential Oils.  She dipped a cotton ball into the solution and rubbed it onto the itchy areas.  For the first time in 2 days, she stopped itching.  I checked on her this morning, and it was still working.  She’s been telling everyone she works with about it.  It makes me so happy when I can whip up an easy and natural remedy that really helps.  Score!

Photo Courtesy of Bulk Apothecary

Photo Courtesy of Bulk Apothecary

Jun 24

Healthy(er) Snacks

If you’ve been reading my blog the last couple of weeks, then you know that I’ve been recovering from a monster cough.  The doctor said I had a bronchial virus, which I assume is a lot like having bronchitis.  I went to Zumba last week for the first time since I’d gotten sick.  I got through the class, but I was absolutely useless for the rest of the day.  I’m still not really ready to do something as aerobic as Zumba.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been exercising at all.  I’m lucky enough to work right across the street from my gym, so I’ve been going on my lunch break.  I only have enough time to work on the elliptical for about 20 minutes, before hopping in the shower and heading back to work.  I take my book with me and read for the 20 minutes that I’m on the elliptical.  I’ve really been enjoying it.  However, last night my little guy would not go to sleep for anything and I was up until midnight when my hubby finally got home from work and took over so that I could go to bed.  So needless to say, I didn’t have the energy to make it to the gym today.

When I came home for lunch I found my amazing hubby making this:

Homemade Peach Pie

Homemade Peach Pie

I bought a ton of peaches from the farmer’s market this weekend.  I cut the peaches up and put half in the fridge and half in the freezer.  My husband had taken the peaches from the freezer and cooked them down with a bit of bourbon and put them in a pie.  You better believe I spent the rest of the day looking forward to this:


We had invited a friend over for dinner tonight, but she declined as she was going to the gym.  She’s training for a 5k.  Being the thoughtful and considerate friend that I am, I immediately sent her a text letting her know that she had made the right decision not to come over tonight.  Since my husband was making peach pie it would completely undo her workout.  After a very colorful response she laughed and made the comment that she needed to find some healthy snacks because she has been craving junk food lately.

Well, we all have that problem from time to time.  It’s always great to have fruit in the house, but sometimes you just need something a little sweeter to satisfy the cravings.  And when it comes to cravings, I have absolutely no will power at all.  So I thought that this would be a good opportunity to share some of the healthier snacks I reach for when I can’t say ‘no’ to my sweat tooth.

Chocolate covered strawberries:

Grab some sugar free Jello chocolate pudding and dip your strawberries, or any other fruit of your choice, in it.  It is soooo good that you totally forget that it’s not sinful.

courtesy of www.dailyhiit.com

courtesy of www.dailyhiit.com









Peaches and cream:

My mom will cut up peaches and put them in a bowl with a little bit of milk.  Sprinkle a bit of sugar over the peaches and milk and it’s divine.  Make this even healthier by using a sugar substitute like stevia.


courtesy of tickledred.com









Peanut Butter Smoothies:

There is little better than a peanut butter smoothie.  And you can change this up depending on what you’re in the mood for.  My favorite is peanut butter and banana.  If it’s a morning smoothie you can add a little bit of coffee.  If you like peanut butter and chocolate, then add some of that Jello chocolate pudding.  There are all kinds of options when it comes to smoothies.


courtesy of peanutbutterdaily.blogspot.com









Of course, when I started focusing on these snacks, I suddenly had a hard time coming up with any, so these three are all that I could eke out.  But I know there’s a lot more great ideas floating around out there.  I’d love to hear what you’ve come up with.

Jun 18

Meal Plan and Manly Hand Scrub

Things are a little tight around the Pleasantly Poor household at the moment.  I missed a good deal of work when I got so sick a couple of weeks ago and haven’t been at my current job long enough to have sick pay yet, so we’re definitely watching every penny.  With that in mind, I was really careful to make sure that the meals that I planned for the week used ingredients that we already had in the house.  I’ve started doing a lot of my grocery shopping at Target.  Their grocery prices really are competitive, and they have this handy app they call the ‘Cartwheel’.  The discounts change periodically and you can select which discounts you want to add to your cartwheel, up to 17 I believe.  The last couple of weeks they have had discounts on nearly every item I’ve needed, so it has really saved me a good bit of money.  You can combine your cartwheel discounts with coupons, but I haven’t had much luck with the coupons lately, so that didn’t do me any good.  In addition to our groceries, I also bought a fan for our living room, because our 18 year old A/C is having a hard time keeping up with the Florida heat.  Including the fan, my grocery bill was right at $75.  Not bad for a family of three.

Our meal plan for the week:

Tuna Patties:  Drain 2 cans of tuna and put tuna into a bowl.  Toast 4 pieces of bread and use the food processor to make bread crumbs.  Add bread crumbs to the tuna.  If you have more bread crumbs than you want to use, put the extras in a baggie and put it in the freezer to use another time. Add 1 egg to the tuna and bread crumbs and mix well.  Make patties about the size of your palm and place into a pan.  There should be enough oil in the pan to cover about a 1/2 inch of the patties.  My husband, the chef, says that the pan and oil should already be hot when you put the patties in the pan.  I’m not sure why, but since he’s the chef, I listen to his advice, usually.  And it certainly cooks faster that way.  I was able to make 8 patties with this recipe, which meant I had some for lunch the next day.  I served it with green peas and a baked potato and my little one cleaned his plate!

Pizzadillas: This recipe came from Life in the Lofthouse and was another big hit with the family.  Put mozzerella cheese on one half of a tortilla, I used flour tortillas, and top the cheese with pepperoni, onions, green peppers, black olives, or whatever you like on your pizza.  Fold the tortilla over the toppings and place in a skillet with a little olive oil on medium heat.  Cook for approximately 5 minutes on each side until the tortilla is lightly browned and cheese is melted.  Serve with a side of pizza sauce for dipping.  This was a fun meal as it can be tailored to each person’s flavor preferences and you can make as many or as few as you want depending on how many people you’re feeding.

Hamburger Helper: Always easy and I know my little one will eat it.  Not to mention that I have several boxes in my pantry.

Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken: I haven’t made this yet, but you can see the full recipe if you click here.  I’m looking forward to making it and I’m going to serve it with rice.  In fact, I plan on making an over abundance of rice so that the next night we can have…

Fried Rice: I’ve never made fried rice before, but the recipe says that it’s best with left over rice.  I bought a can of peas and carrots to mix in with the rice.  This is also from Life in the Lofthouse, but hers is hawaiian, using Ham and Pineapple.  As I’m not a big fan of adding fruit to my entrees, I will be deviating a bit.  But if you’d like to see the full recipe click here.


I spent a week or so racking my brain for something to make the men in my life for Father’s Day.  I made Camp Wander’s Healing Salve for the mothers on Mother’s Day, but I didn’t think the dads would be impressed with a homemade hand moisturizer.  Of course, the answer still came from Camp Wander.  I hopped onto her site and found a post for Grill Gear Scrub for grills, dishes and hands.  I jumped at the idea, especially since I already had everything I needed to make it, salt, baking soda, dish soap, and lemon essential oil.  I followed her direction, but there was one problem, I had a different idea of what I wanted the scrub to be than she did.  It made more of a paste than a scrub, and I could definitely see it would be great for cleaning greasy grills.  But I was picturing something more like the Fast Orange pumice hand scrub.  So I did some doctoring.

This is my manly hand scrub:

1 cup salt

1 cup baking soda

1/2 cup of dish soap

1/4 cup of water

50 drops lemongrass essential oil

The measurements are approximates because I was kind of winging it and hoping I came up with something useful, but I think they’re pretty accurate.  I mixed all the ingredients together in a bowl to the consistency that I wanted and tried washing my hands with it.  Not only did it feel a lot like the store bought pumice scrubs, but my hands felt really nice once it was washed off.  I divided the scrub into three (3) 4 oz mason jars.  I figured a manly hand scrub would be a great gift for the dads, because dads tend to make manly messes.  My father is always working on the cars, fixing his fencing equipment, or working in the yard.  My hubby goes fishing and comes home with unreasonable amounts of mud and sand plastered to every exposed orifice.  And my father in law…grills, and that can be dirty work…right?  I sent one to my father, one to my father in law, and gave one to my hubby.  I also gave them all a card with a picture of my little one, just in case they weren’t overwhelmed by my manly hand scrub.


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