Easiest Shepard’s Pie

Well if anyone else is having a week like I am, this easy and delish. Maker family approved.

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Easiest Shepards Pie

This is the worlds easiest, busy mom, ain't got time for that- Shepard's Pie

Ingredients
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 1 packages Jack Daniels Tenessee BBQ Pulled Chicken
  • 1 package Family Size Mashed Potatoes
Instructions
  1. in a baking dish, open the package of Pulled Chicken, and spread along bottom. The second layer is the bag of frozen corn (do not heat)


  2. In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add potato flakes per instructions. 

  3. whip masked potatoes and add as top layer

  4. Heat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 35-45 minutes until mashed potatoes begin to brown on top. 

Mental Clarity – Simple Living

Part of living your life on purpose is mental clarity. I know I mention simplifying in a way that is material things, saving money, DIY Natural Remedies etc. This is all for nothing if you are a mess mentally. I can tell you this is SUCH A STRUGGLE for me. I must credit blogger Erica Layne for some of these common sense ideas. I am working on or should I say a work in progress of focusing on things that matter and living simply. Giving up control for our type AAA personalities is always going to be a work in progress. I hope you enjoy the read.

MENTAL CLARITY

  • Have a “do nothing” day. (Regularly.) We call this a PJ day in our house.
  • Design a morning routine that helps you start each day peacefully and efficiently. I can testify that my beginning of my capsule wardrobe has helped immensely with this.
  • Choose an intention or a mantra for the week. For example,

Less is more.

Live Simply

May I practice with what I’m given—rather than wish for something else.

  • Institute one hour to hammer out all the tasks you’ve been procrastinating.
  • Single-task. Focus on one thing at a time rather than multitasking and doing half a job.
  • Set timers to help you work with more focus and produce results you’re proud of.
  • Plan a trip. Whether it’s a day-trip, a weekend road trip, or an exotic vacation, nothing reminds you to value experiences over things like travel does.
  • Take a good look at your to-do list and cross one thing off that just doesn’t REALLY need done.
  • Double the time you spend outside.
  • Drink a Tea and listen to rain.
  • Pet your fur animals.
  • Take a deep breath. Take another.
  • Take your shoes off and put your feet in the grass. This always reminds me of the “pop a squat” scene in Pretty Woman.

Let me know what you practice for Mental Clarity. Comment below.

 

DIY Makeup Remover Pads

DIY Homemade Makeup Remover Pads

As you know, in our house we have teenage girls. When we were really looking at tracking our grocery budget it was around the same time cat eyes were in style. Well, makeup wipes are about $4-$8 depending on the brand. This was a ridiculous waste of money. When ever I feel like something is a waste of money, I think…Can I do this myself?

What you will need:

  • 1 quart wide mouth jar
  • 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 2 squirts of tear-free baby wash
  • 2 cups of purified water
  • 2 packages of cotton pads
  • Microwaveable bowl
  • Instructions: 

    1. Mix 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, 2 squirts of tear-free baby wash and 2 cups of purified water.

    2. Microwave in 10-20 second increments until melted and well blended.

    3. Place about 50 cotton pads in you quart jar.

    4. Pour your liquid mixture over your pads in the jar. Press pads down to help soak up the liquid. Add more pads to fit, pressing down.

    5. Secure lid tight and keep in a dry, cool place.

    6. Use your pads to remove your makeup daily.

    Enjoy!

My Capsule Part Two

Starting a Capsule:

1. Pare down your closet to 37 items.
2. Wear only those 37 items for three months.
3. Don’t go shopping during the season until…
4. During the last two weeks of the season, plan and shop for your next capsule.
​5. The amount you buy for the next capsule is up to you, but less is more.

Since my post last week on my capsule wardrobe, I wanted to let you know that I have since shipped 2 giant bags off to ThredUP for extra money and I have given away one giant plastic tub, and two laundry baskets to friends of mine.  Each and every piece of clothing was held up and asked the 7 questions!

It was funny to me how many things in my closet, I know I feel uncomfortable when I wear or they are just not my style. This initial purge was easier than I expected.

What I am left with is still a bit of disarray but less of a disarray than before.  Getting rid of sweaters and pants with holes in them was liberating. I highly suggest starting there. I had 6 sweaters with various rips, one that I had even worn recently and swore I just wouldn’t lift my arm where someone would see. That’s nuts. After that it was a matter of money guilt as my reason for hanging on to most things. Thinking I had spent my hard earned money on this and therefore it should hang in the closet and I could pretend I hadn’t made a buying mistake. I also adopted some new planning for this most amazing wardrobe.  This brings me to my step two!

Step Two Is Round Two

Yes that is correct. As you can see above and if I were to take a guess, I would say there are probably 50 pieces of clothing in my closet still.  My goal is to get rid of another 25-30 pieces.

As incentive to myself I bought 30 really nice hangers, the velvet lined kind and I am only using those.  30 hangers =30 pieces.

My Color Pallet

That is it, that is my neutrals. I want to add some Navy and some light blues and I have green eyes and anything green looks good on me, the colors in my pallet can be worn together. I love experimenting with colors, but the pallet is optional as long as each piece can be worn a variety of ways. I know that every color in my pallet except black and navy can be worn together this will make dressing and outfit combinations easier. Totally up to you if this works for you or not.

There are some goals I set for myself. Setting goals will help me to make sure I am not getting right back into an overabundance of spending and clothing. This is something I need.

  • I am not shopping for anything else until January 2018.  I did buy a few pairs of Talbots pants because I got rid of a lot of my brown, navy and black pants that no longer fit or yes some had stains and holes. I also bought a few cardigans for this exact same reason. This project doesn’t have to cost money, but I wear pants and cardigans in all seasons so this made sense for me.
  • I want to make sure each thing in my closet can be worn 7 different ways.  For example, if a pink sweater is in the closet it needs to be able to be worn with brown pants, navy pants, black pants, skirts of same color. Add accessories like necklaces and scarves to change the look. So the pink sweater can stay.  The bright red floral dress? No it can only be worn as a floral dress, it isn’t even set up to wear with a cardigan or blazer. This will go.
  • Talbot’s pants are awesome. (ThredUp $16.99) I only say this because I never even considered trying this brand of pants, and they are awesome.
  • I have established my color pallet.  I can check that off the list.
  • My motto this month- heck this year is-  “Live Simply”

I would love to hear stories about how your capsule is coming along. Message me with your own adventure.

ThredUP

Creating less:

3 reasons to build a capsule wardrobe

1. Figure out what matters.
If you are overwhelmed with stuff and busyness, you may have forgotten what really matters to you, how you like to spend your time, and the dreams you had for your life. Living and dressing with less helps you reconnect and remember. Sometimes to figure out what matters you have to get rid of everything that doesn’t.

2. Reduce decision fatigue.
Deciding what to wear requires mental energy better spent on other things. Instead of trying on several outfits getting ready in the morning in hopes of finding the perfect thing to wear, curate a small capsule wardrobe. Then there are no daily decisions required. You get to wear your favorite things every day.

3. Create more space and time for what you love.
Even if you don’t know what matters yet, or what you love, by dressing with less you’ll have a little more time and space to figure it out. A little more time and space to breathe.

The idea of capsule wardrobes has been fascinating to me since I learned what they were.  In my mind with a capsule wardrobe I would look like princess Kate and always be crisp and perfectly fashioned.  As weird as it is to type this out loud, I feel like I have a relationship with my wardrobe. My clothes define a lot about who I am and what mood I am in.

Anyone who has ever seen my closet or asked me to borrow something knows I have WAY TOO MUCH! Mr. Maker may indulge in beer making kits but I certainly blow our budget out of the water with my clothing spending and hoarding habits.

The thing is these clothes aren’t sentimental. They are not like the t shirt of my first concert, or the shirt I was first kissed in. They are just clothes.

Lately, inspired by blog writing, decluttering my life and a way to live a happier carefree greener life, I have been slowly working on my capsule wardrobe.

So what is a Capsule Wardrobe?

When I Googled the definition of a capsule wardrobe I found …

  • a collection of clothes and accessories that include only items considered essential
  • a person’s basic collection of coordinating clothes that can be used to form the basis of outfits for all occasions
  • a set of clothing, normally around 24 items, which can be mixed and matched to create a wide variety of outfits.

For my own capsule wardrobe, I am still working on the basic collection part. I have been trying to look through my clothes and see what I actually want to wear and how I feel about wearing it. Add that to what else I can put with it, different pants or shoes and I am on my way.

So where does ThredUP come into all of this.  I discovered this site based on a commercial. One thing about a capsule wardrobe is to buy less but buy better quality or spend more per item since you will be wearing it more and want it to last. I am thrifty by nature and spending more than $40 on a sweater has never been cool with me. ThredUP is an online thrift store.  This backs up my whole concept of reusing, and also allows me to buy cashmere sweaters and name brands for under $30.

My first order arrives this week.  This includes some great sweaters from JCrew to pair with skirts or pants or even jeans for weekend wear. I can add pearls or a blazer, even a scarf. Basics like this give me plenty of options.

Now the other thing…I have been selling some clothes on our community Buy Sell page on Facebook. Lately the people wanting clothing has really dropped off.  ThredUP, also lets me sell on consignment. Order a Clean Out Bag and refresh your wardrobe. Fill it up with like-new women’s and kids’ clothes. Earn a little cash or credit.

Like I said, for me this is a work in progress. I hope you will join me in this adventure and we would love to hear how you plan your wardrobe.

Starting a Capsule:

1. Pare down your closet to 37 items.
2. Wear only those 37 items for three months.
3. Don’t go shopping during the season until…
4. During the last two weeks of the season, plan and shop for your next capsule.
​5. The amount you buy for the next capsule is up to you, but less is more.

Limoncello

As you probably have figured out by now, our family is Italian. One of our favorite family dessert drinks is Limoncello.

Well with the inspiration of Mr. Maker making all the home brew and wine, I couldn’t let him be the only one making fabulous beverages.

This is what started my obsession with anything cello.  I say anything because I am working on Orangecello as we speak. Stay tuned to see how that turns out.

Limoncello is easy and basic, really being patient is the hardest part.

What you will need:

Ingredients

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for another use). Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 14 days at room temperature.

Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.  Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature anywhere from 2-4 days. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles.

This is perfect as a sipper on the patio or I like to add to a little lemonade and some half and half for the perfect lemon meringue beverage.

This batch is called “Back to School Limoncello”  My babies are off to 11th grade and college this year and this mom needs some patio beverages!

I hope you enjoy.

 

Chowder

 

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Ham Potato Corn Chowder

The most delish, easy summer chowder that is perfect for the night before back to school. 

Servings: 6 people
Ingredients
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Gluten Free Flour
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 package Morrel Diced Ham
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 3 potatos
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt
  • pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat, add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes.

    Mix in the garlic, thyme and flour and cook until the flour is lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.

    Slowly stir in the broth, deglazing the pan as you go, add the milk and potatoes, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10-12 minutes.

    Add the ham and corn, cook until heated and season with salt and pepper.

Non Paper Towels

To make one ton of paper towels 17 trees are used and 20,000 gallons of water are polluted. In the U.S. we currently use more than 13 billion pounds of paper towels each year and that number is growing steadily. This equals more than 3,000 tons of paper towel waste in the U.S. alone. Decomposing paper towels produce methane gas. Methane gas is a leading cause of global warming.

The Problem with Paper Towels

Paper towels are not recyclable. They don’t contain much fiber, so the cost of recycling them is not financially beneficial. Also, because they are often dirty and wet after use, the fibers are further degraded. Since paper towels aren’t recyclable, they’re purely a waste product.

Our house has paper towels on the Subscribe and Save list.  Last year when we moved to using only cloth napkins, Mr. Maker swore he would not get on board if I moved to eliminate paper towels. We use paper towels for everything from clean ups to drying dishes to window washing.  As long as your paper towels are unbleached and chlorine-free, they are safe to toss into your compost bin, not the trash. Since our HOA says no to compost bins, we needed to find an alternative.

To make this experiment easier I left the paper towels. I left them hanging right above where I put the basket with flour sack towels.  You can see from the picture.

The nice thing about flour sack towels is they hold up to stains, they fold nicely, they absorb spills and liquid, and they clean without leaving residue. (this was an issue with our first try of using shop cloths) They also cost about $12 for 15.

Pre flour sack days ( June 2017)  we were using about 1-2 rolls of the XL rolls of paper towels a week at $1.64 per roll.  This is 140-280 sheets.  Since offering the option of flour sack towels, we are still on our 2nd roll for two months. So this will mean about 12 rolls a year for The Maker family.

These numbers were enough to make me think twice about grabbing the next roll of unnecessarily wasteful paper towels. But understanding exactly how to lessen my personal impact made all the difference. Below is the link to a five minute TED talk where Joe Smith shows us how to use just one paper towel, no matter the type, when washing our hands. This demonstration presents a powerful lesson that even if you don’t go completely paper towel-less, you can reduce your use.

VIDEO: How to Use One Paper Towel

Now let’s talk about the cost savings.

Cloth use equals bigger savings in the long run. In ten years we plan to  rarely buy new towels of any sort so if you’re an excessive paper towel user and you switch to cloth not only will you save $1,299 in five years but you’ll save about $2,500 in ten years – the savings will continually edge up the scale with time.

Also, at the regular grocery store I often see people with 8-packs of paper towels. Not everyone buys in bulk. If you don’t buy in bulk and are an excessive user it can cost you a lot more ($2.50 per roll is a typical mid-range cost at my grocery store). That’s about $1,800 in five years.

Saving the planet and saving money, by one simple change.

This is still a work in progress for us, and when we host people at our house, we do put the basket of flour sacks away in the cabinet.

I would love to know if you have tried this or something similar in your home.

No Spend Day Fail

It’s Friday, and you know what that means….I am going to show you how to make or save money.

This month we are working on NO$SPENT days. As I previously admitted earlier this week, I had a super emotional shopping day on Monday and I want to go through that experience and show you exactly how this could have played out differently.

My first confession, Monday spilled over to Tuesday and Wednesday. I am sure Mr. Maker is shaking his head as he reads this.

This is my No Spend Fail Confession:

Monday at Lunch time, my co-worker and I went to Target so that she could get school supplies for her son.

  • My first mistake was I should have left my wallet in my desk drawer. This would have made the impulse buys that I made impossible.
  • I wanted to get a book, for all the reading I want to start doing again. Second Mistake, I am not currently reading on the regular and I didn’t even begin by looking at the library which is a block from our house.
  • I needed Quinoa pasta for the farewell dinner we were hosting for our son before his mission trip. This I bought on sale and it was really good. $1.54. I could have used veggies I already had and made spiral noodles since I am the only one who needed to eat gluten free.
  • I checked Cartwheel before I went. I wasn’t supposed to buy anything but the allure of a deal made Cartwheel essential.

I spent $55.36

I spent $55.36 on a trip that was an impulse to begin with. Let me explain what I bought.

  • Two books, the reading habit for the life I am going to begin living required not just one book but two. $12/each after the 20% discount.
  • Quinoa Pasta mentioned above $1.54
  • Two baguettes. $2.99 but I had a 50 cent coupon.
  • Pasta Sauce $3.08, because I couldn’t remember if we had and I didn’t want to text my husband to check. We did have and the unused sauce is in the pantry.
  • Tupperware $12.99 with 20% Cartwheel and $2.00 off coupon saving $4.50, I didn’t need or want Tupperware but now $8.50 made it a deal. It is still in my trunk while I debate returning it.
  • K cups $10.99 because what if my Subscribe and Save didn’t arrive on time? By the way it did and now I have way too many K cups.

This entire $55 trip was not necessary but I backed it up with another $30 trip to World Market.

I spent $30 on a trip to World Market, because I am always the hostess and I had to have fun wine for my dinner guest for our sons farewell dinner.

  • Rose’ $11.99, I don’t drink Rose’ but its fun for the summer. (My MIL had one small glass and it is now in my refrigerator going bad.)
  • Sangria $11.99 in a fun bottle. This was really delish and the bottle was cute and I can reuse for Limoncello, it wasn’t needed but it was fun.
  • Italian Olives $5.99, that’s the theme of the dinner right?
  • Salami $5.99 because it will make the  platter more appealing with a theme?
  • Italian Cheese $4.99 this finished the look.

My 6 year old nephew loved the salami so much that he filled up on that and didn’t eat his dinner. After the family added crackers to the platter, I couldn’t eat any of it because it touched Gluten.

Now the icing on the cake $77 at TJMAXX

The hottest day of the week Wednesday and my bras was really bugging me, rubbing the wrong way. The solution= Shopping. I spend $77 at TJMAXX.

  • 6 new bras on clearance $34
  • 3 tops for work $34, if you have ever seen my closet you know this was NOT anything I needed.

Total Failure= $187

Now this may seem like a lot of extra money or maybe it’s pocket change for your family, for someone who prides herself on saving money and reusing what she has, this is pitiful.

I share this with you so that we can all look inside ourselves and see where we are wasting our money and where we have room for improvement. My NO$SPENT week is obviously a work in progress. As I type this out it is more embarrassing than anything.  The best part is this weekend is tax free holiday in Ohio, so I blew it on a whole different level and emotionally I don’t feel any different because of this stuff.  As my punishment,  I’ll just be sitting over here in my new shirt, reading this book, eating olives if anyone needs me 😉

We would love to hear from you on ways you have wasted or saved money and how you keep from temptations. I think I will be leaving all my cards at home from now on.

 

HELP! My Spending Is Out Of Control

You would think a savvy budgeting guru like myself would have all of the answers, you would be wrong.

One of the reasons that inspired us to write this blog,  is so that we can relate to real people like ourselves with budgets, families, and debt.  With that in mind I should let you in on a little not so secret secret, I am an emotional shopper.

It’s only Tuesday and I don’t yet have a day where I can use my “NO $ SPENT” sticker in my planner.

Not only that, but I own a planner where I use stickers. I think this may be something from childhood, where I had a major sticker collection habit. Regardless, my planner is my guide to life and I rely on it, so I am comfortable that I made this purchase with a 40% off coupon and paid cash. The rest of my purchases of late are completely off the budget track.

I thought I would include some steps, so that if you are like me at all you can incorporate into your life and hopefully we can end this cycle of emotional spending.

The most important thing is to Understand Your Spending Triggers

In many cases, knowing how to stop spending money has to do with identifying the emotional and psychological triggers that cause us to spend. If you remove those triggers, you’ll remove the temptation and opportunity to overspend. So the next time you head out the door, keep these in mind:

Time of Day

I am a lunchtime shopper. I find that I can get away from my desk, no kids, no husband, no crowd.  I can leisurely stroll through a store and take the full hour not working.  Do you find that you have more energy during certain periods of the day? If so, shop during times when you have more energy and feel less stressed. You’ll make wiser spending choices and think more rationally when you’re relaxed and less pressured.

Environment

Are there certain environments that make you want to spend, or make you feel obligated to spend just because you’re there? Craft stores, shopping malls, home shows, and even when you’re on vacation are all prime examples of times when you’re more likely to spend impulsively. So, take away the temptation by either steering clear of such environments, or only taking a few dollars with you.

Likewise, if you have a favorite store and you find yourself wandering through the aisles looking for great deals, do all you can to limit your opportunities to go there. For me this is TJMAXX and World Market, I have an obsession with fancy wines and foods. I like hostessing and showing off my dishes and platters. If we have people coming for dinner, I have to have a cute bottle of wine or some olives for them.

Mood

Different moods and emotional states can alter our energy, making us more prone to impulse shopping. For example, if we’re upset, stressed or anxious we may seek some retail therapy to feel better. This was 100% me this afternoon.  I am not sure if the 4 bras and bottle of Rose’ worked?

Instead of hitting the mall or your favorite internet shopping site, hit the gym or the park. Going for a walk or doing some exercise will do wonders for lifting up your mood.

What’s important is that you identify the moods that affect your spending behavior, and to find ways to avoid shopping during moods that will cause you to impulse buy.

Peer Pressure

Do you tend to spend more money than you normally would when you’re hanging out with your friends? Even the most well-intention friends can be a bad influence on us, especially if they have bad spending habits themselves. If you can’t afford to eat, shop, and vacation the way your friends do, it’s okay to decline their invites. That goes for co-workers too.

 

Lifestyle

If you’re accustomed to a certain lifestyle, it could be difficult to give up when you suddenly encounter a financial hardship. But, if your lifestyle ends up becoming bigger than your budget and you don’t know how to stop overspending your budget, you could end up in worse shape.

Your upbringing also has an effect on your lifestyle choices. If you grew up in a household where money was always tight, you may feel the urge to overspend to compensate for all the things you were deprived of growing up.  Similarly, if you grew up in a household where money wasn’t an issue, you may feel compelled to spend money you don’t have in order to maintain the lifestyle you grew up with.

The easiest way to start living within your means is to create a budget, and to stick to it. You may have to sacrifice some things, but it will be worth it when you see your bank account balance coming out of the red.

I am not sure if this helps. I know I like to Pinterest when I am feeling the shopping urge. Just look at what they have or show and what I already own that could work.

Thanks for listening to my woes. I promise I will work on getting back on track tomorrow.  Let me know what your shopping triggers are, we would love to hear from you.