Easy Basic Goulash Recipe

As the weather is changing, so do the types of meals that we prepare. This “Goulash” is another one of our family favorites.  Yes, I know that traditional goulash is more of a soup or stew, but that’s just the name we adopted for this dish.  There are usually leftovers to enjoy the next day, when it tends to taste even yummier.



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Italian Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Here is a special weekend post with a super-easy meal idea.  All you need is three ingredients to make this delicious version of a classic sandwich (plus some bread).  Our weekends are always packed, both with family fun and side hustling to make extra money.  We depend on meals that are healthy, quick, and easy.  And, of course, they must be toddler friendly.  Italian Chicken Salad Sandwiches satisfy all of these requirements, and are in the regular rotation of meals at our house.

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Cheap And Easy Party Treats For New Year’s Eve

I heard today that Olive Garden in New York City is charging $400 a person on New Year’s Eve.  Holiday parties can get expensive, but that is just ridiculous!  We were invited to spend the evening with a few other families in our neighborhood.  It will be a potluck style gathering, with everyone bringing some snacks and drinks.  I put together this list of ideas of appetizers that would be perfect for any such gathering.  They are all inexpensive and easy to make, because we’re not willing to spend hours in the kitchen on a perfect Pinterest-inspired creation.  We have better things to do with our time and money than trying to gain admiration from neighbors.  But I digress – we still need to find something yummy to contribute towards the collection of snacks for the night.

Cheap & Easy Party Treats

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Frugally Resourceful: Crabapple Jelly & Hard Cider

A few weeks ago, I happened to glance out of the front window at our crabapple tree.  The apples were starting to ripen and fall to the ground.  It was about time to start our yearly ritual of raking them up and disposing of the apples.  I remember one day when the kids were having fun throwing them on the pavement until they smashed open.  Then, one of those more-frequently-sounding anti-frugal alarms started going off in my head.  There had to be something that we could do with this fruit.  A quick search of the internet gave me two ideas: crabapple jelly and hard cider.


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3 Ingredient, Quick & Easy “Cabin Chicken”

The majority of my childhood summers were spent in a log cabin in the woods.  As the oldest, I was often in charge of preparing dinner for my siblings.  The cabin was great, but we had no oven or stove, only two small hotplates.  In addition, the pantries were limited to fairly basic ingredients as we were only there for a few months.  Back in the early 1990’s, I used what was available and came up with one of my family’s customary dinners, “Cabin Chicken.” 

cabin chicken

Now that I’m back to working full-time, we need quick and easy dinner recipes.  This recipe is perfect for busy nights when you need to get something on the table before you have to hear “is dinner ready yet?” one more time.  Continue Reading →

What To Do With Extra Zucchini – Brownies!

The hard work is paying off . . . we’ve started harvesting fresh vegetables from our garden.  It’s a great feeling to provide your family with delicious, homegrown food without having to swipe the credit card.  The first “fruit” of our labor was some crispy green beans.  Then, in the past several days, ripe zucchinis started popping up all over the garden.  I did some research on inventive ways to use these abundant vegetables and found an awesome treat: Zucchini Chocolate Chip Brownies.

What To Do With Extra Zucchini

We tried preparing the zucchini a couple of ways so far.  The kids have been very reluctant to eat this vegetable, even though we’ve told them it is “just like a cucumber.”  I decided to look for something different to do with my latest harvest.


The Raw Materials

Now, I’ve already admitted to a serious sweet tooth, so it’s no surprise that a dessert caught my eye while skimming through Pinterest.  I went with this recipe.  It took a few minutes to prepare the zucchini with a food processor (one medium zucchini yielded the two cups necessary), but otherwise baking these up was pretty easy.  I substituted baking powder for the baking soda because mine seems to have disappeared.  It may have made the brownies a little more cake-like, but they were still delicious!

eatingbrownies (2)

Too Good To Eat Nicely

Everyone agreed that you don’t even notice the zucchini in these brownies.  Goofball devoured his, even after we told him about the “secret” ingredient.  I didn’t have to buy anything to make these brownies, using what was already in my garden and cupboard, so it was a frugal treat.  I know, this is not the healthiest dish.  But if we’re going to have dessert anyways, why not sneak in another vegetable?

10 Cheap And Easy Cookout Ideas For The Fourth of July

We received a last minute invitation to a cookout back on Memorial Day.  I brought some ordinary Rice Krispie treats and sliced watermelon, because they were cheap and easy to prepare.  With the Fourth of July coming up, I’ve compiled a list of recipes that are a bit more impressive for a neighborhood or family gathering, but are inexpensive and won’t take too much effort to prepare.


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Working Towards A Simple Life


What drives you?  Some dream of status, power, and expensive things.  I used to work towards those meaningless goals based on a blind assumption that they would lead to happiness and fulfillment.  Now, I dream of freedom.

There are so many days I’ve wasted inside a small office, under artificial lights, trying to maintain concentration on the uninspiring task at hand.  Meanwhile, my family is elsewhere.  My soul mate is toiling away at his physically demanding job.  I think of how easily an accident could separate us.  My little loves are being cared for, taught, and nurtured by others.  The only one close by is the baby, swimming obliviously inside of me.  Little does he know that a similar fate awaits not long after he enters this world.  He too will be handed off to someone who, if the paychecks stopped, would not be there to care for him.  This person is the one who will hold him while he falls asleep, comfort him when he cries, and likely witness new developments every day.

I’m driven by a desire for joyful abandon with my family.  That my soul can soak in their laughter, pure and simple, without being burdened by worries about money or work responsibilities.  I dream of waking up to little visitors saying “mommy” at my bedside instead of a harsh alarm clock.  That we could snuggle in bed until we’re just too hungry to wait any longer for breakfast.  We could play games, read books, and go exploring outside – never needing to check the clock.  Family dinners would be homemade together and enjoyed leisurely.  We would stay up late at night, toasting marshmallows over a bonfire and looking for constellations in the sky.  After the children finally fall asleep, my husband and I could stay up for hours immersed in the simplistic pleasure of just being with the one you love.   

My dreams don’t include impressive real estate or cars with shiny hood ornaments.  We don’t need regular vacations in exotic locations.  I could care less about baubles and the name brands constantly beckoning from advertisements.  To the contrary, the presence of our material possessions is suffocating.  I feel crowded by, and angry with, these things.  We stupidly believed the lies that we need “more” and “newer” in order to be happy.  Now, our happiness seems delayed by these foolish and ill-advised expenditures.  We are trapped in debt, trading hours of our lives for checks applied towards interest accruing on our past mistakes.

The life visited in my imagination centers around an older farmhouse, with room enough for our four children.  There is a garden and a few chickens are roaming around.  An older van sits in the driveway, usually passed over in favor of the small collection of bicycles leaning against the garage.  There is a yard with good climbing trees, including one with delicious apples.  We all frolic, read, and eat lunch together in the sunshine and fresh air.  There are chores to be done, such as collecting eggs and tending to the garden, but we do them as a family.  At some point, I will choose to spend a few hours writing, perhaps while the kids work on their homework.  We spend our days in comfortable clothing, our feet in sneakers, flip flops, or nothing at all.   

The simple life . . . someday we will have it.  I have to stay hopeful that it is possible, even if it we can’t achieve completely the one built in my dreams.  There has to be a better life for us, one where I can be excited about meeting our new baby instead of being stressed and tired because there is so much work that needs to be completed before maternity leave.  There has to be a better future, one where my mind is not monopolized by impending deadlines and my weekend not tainted by bad feedback from my employer. 

But for now, there remains a penance to be paid.  We are the only ones at blame for choosing the path that led us to a dead end in the maze of life.  Slowly, we must find our way back to a point where we have options.  We must focus and work hard in order to find this place.  I will try to channel all of my anger and frustration towards destroying our debt so as to expedite this mission.  We need to continue our innovative tactics to save more money and increase our income.  Our dream is attainable and unquestionably worth the effort. 

I am working towards a simpler, purer life  . . . what drives you?