Category Archives: Home

Home sweet home!

Bathroom Makeover

I’m finally getting around to posting pics of our bathroom makeover. With the busy holiday season approaching at Salt & Pepper, I’m sure my posts are going to be few and far between for a bit.

Before: Yuck!

Nonetheless, here it is…our amazing bathroom transformation! They say that bathrooms and kitchens sell houses. Well, that just wasn’t the case in our rent house. (I won’t even talk about the dreadful  kitchen today.) And as you can see, the bathroom is the size of a small closet. The awesome master bedroom, gorgeous hardwood floors, and PERFECT location are what sold us on this house…definitely NOT the bathroom or kitchen.

I will never understand what made someone chose this dreadful green color for the bathroom. It was the color of toothpaste! To make matters worse,

Love this shower curtain!

someone patched the walls (poorly) with the wrong color paint, which really made it look like a child smeared old toothpaste all over the place. In this case, a can of paint really made a huge difference.

Since the room is so small, I decided to paint it stark white. I also thought it would be a good contrast to this FABULOUS shower curtain.

We switched out all of the towel racks to our awesome, new branch-looking ones. (Thanks, Mom, for all of the new bathroom goodies. She hooked us up with a new bathroom as part of our wedding present.) We changed the knobs on the doors. Two doors had old, dreadful silver knobs, and the other two had porcelain white ones with monkeys on them…no joke. (Notice the new knobs match the shower curtain rings that I already had. Total accident, but I loved it!)

Possibly my favorite part of the new bathroom is this cool ladder shelf. I bought this ladder to use as a night stand, but it was too short. It makes a perfect holder for these baskets! Matt & I each have one for our toothbrushes, etc. (The baskets were also a wedding present.)

My favorite part!

Other bathroom details: My mom bought me the rug as a housewarming present when I moved here, and it covers up a large chunk of that ugly floor. The bird containers were also a wedding present from my mom. (I’ve since broken one of them, so now the center serves as a candle holder. I was so mad!) I already had the wall sconces, curtain hook, and rod from my very first town house. The curtain was originally my sisters. My mom used it for a bit at her house. Then, we used it as a table cloth at one of our wedding celebrations, and now it’s my bathroom curtain! Also, Matt hates the light fixtures, but I happen to love them! I think they compliment the decor nicely, and of course, I love anything vintage!

Well, there ya have it…our Sunday afternoon bathroom makeover. I’ll post the living room decor next, but in the meantime, let me know what you think of the bathroom! I love seeing everyone’s thoughts and comments!

After: Much Better!

Move Over Paula Dean!

Looks yummy…not!
Ok, so I’m not quite Paula Dean. More like Chef Boyardee…that you heat straight from the can! Either way, here’s my post about my first major freezing experience, for those of you who are keeping up.

All of the blogs I researched said not to do your cooking/preparing/freezing on the same day that you shop. I’m sort of short on time, so I broke that rule. Big mistake! I didn’t realize the experience had taken so much out of me until I was straight in the middle of putting away my chicken (the last thing on the list). Luckily, Matt was a team player and came to save me, because I was about to throw it all in the trash and walk away! It went much quicker with an extra set of hands.

If you read my shopping post, you remember that I stocked up on hamburger meat that was dated for that day, so I knew I had to cook it quickly. (I’m a stickler for expiration dates, so I was paranoid about acting fast.) We were planning on having tacos that night, so I made 2 lbs into taco meat. We ate some that night and had enough for 2 additional meals to freeze. This worked great because each time we have tacos, we end up throwing away a good bit of meat.  This way, we had enough for a third meal! We haven’t tried the frozen taco meat yet, but I’ll report back on how it turns out.

After the tacos, I had 8 lbs of ground beef left, so I took to browning! I browned approximately 3 lbs at a time, drained it, and dumped it in a large storage container. After all the meat was browned, I left it to cool on the counter for a bit. (You shouldn’t put hot foods straight in to the freezer or fridge.) Once it was cool, I sorted the meat into one pound increments. I panicked at first because once the meat was all mixed together, I didn’t know how much a pound was. I don’t have a fancy meat scale. No worries though…I have a handy husband. He said a pound of hamburger meat was about 2 cups. (How does he even know all these random things??!) So, I measured out somewhere between 2-2 1/2 cups and poured into freezer bags. Before adding the meat, I wrote on all the bags and included the date so I would know how long it would be in the freezer. I’m a stickler for dates, remember?

All bagged and ready to go!

The most important thing about freezing in freezer bags is to remove every last bit of air that you can. This is what keeps foods from getting freezer burn and ruining.

The next day, I worked on all the other meats. I marinated a few steaks and put in bags of 2. I did the same with pork chops using this recipe. We haven’t tried them yet, but they smelled promising! Finally, it was time to do the chicken…dreadful chicken. As I mentioned before, most of our menu this month was chicken. Here’s a tip: don’t save your biggest task to last. Seriously, if Matt wouldn’t have come to help, I would have thrown the last of that stupid chicken in the yard and went to bed.

I had an assortment of breasts and tenderloins. I washed them all and piled onto a cutting board. I used my kitchen shears to trim them up so there would be less to do before cooking. (If you don’t have kitchen shears…get some!) After trimming all of the yucky stuff off (technical language), I moved them to a second cutting board where I sorted them by what was needed for each recipe. Even though most of the chicken was frozen plain, I still wrote the recipes on each bag. This will keep us from using chicken that was planned for another meal. It will also be easy to just pull out a bag for whichever recipe we want to make…less thinking involved.

Since this was my first experience, I didn’t do quite as much in advance as I could have. I realized when making this Parmesan Chicken, that I could have boiled the chicken before freezing it. Oh well, I’ll pay closer attention next time.

So far, it’s going well. The only major hiccup is that I’m not in the habit of taking the next day’s meal out the night before. Luckily, we have a pretty awesome defrost setting on our new microwave, so we can thaw things that way. But, I plan on getting better at doing it the night before.

All in all, it’s been successful. I can’t really tell a difference in the frozen meats vs fresh…especially if they thaw naturally. The biggest source of convenience is not having to go to the grocery store each week. I feel so relieved! Plus, we’re coming in under our food budget for this month. That’s a nice bonus! I’ll keep everyone updated about new findings and experiences regarding my stocked freezer. I promise my next post won’t be quite so long! There are just too many details for this topic!

I want to thank everyone for caring enough to read (especially these long ones). I’ve had fun sharing my experiences, and it’s so encouraging to have those of you who are wanting to keep up.

 
I hope to share our bathroom face lift next…it’s a good one!
 
Note:
If you’re interested in where I got most of my info, check out this site. This is where I decided I should try something like this. I literally read through every link on the page. Great info!
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
 
 
 
 

Filling the Fridge

I made my first shopping trip for a month long supply of groceries, and it was a huge success!

We were spending an average of $115-150/week on groceries. (That’s $500+ a month.) Last week, I spent $219 for the entire month, giving us 29 meals! This doesn’t include small meals like sandwiches, etc. I am so proud of myself! (My saving came just in time because we got a $350 bill from the dentist. Ugh!) What’s even more exciting is that my goal was to spend under $400, and I was praying to not go over $600. When the clerk said $219, I almost jumped up and down!

Here’s how I did it:
I’ll start by saying I didn’t go coupon crazy or anything like that. I applaud people who can get groceries for next to nothing, but I simply don’t have that time or patience. I did load a few coupons to my Brookshires Loyalty Card for things I was already buying, but they only saved me a few dollars. (You should definitely get the app for your phone if you’re a Brookshires shopper.)

Preparing for the shopping trip took waaaay longer than I imagined. I went through 10 different cookbooks, searched online, and created a list of meals we’d like to have this month. This took quite a bit of time. It’s surprisingly hard to think about what you’d like to eat for the next 30 days!

I typed up all the recipes in a new “Petrus Family Recipes” file. (I’m still in shock that Matt & I are “The Petrus Family”…weird!) This seemed a little redundant, but I decided it would be best to have all of the recipes in one location, rather than having to dig around for them. This way, we can add and take away, creating a file of our favorites.

Then, I went through each recipe and made a list of all the ingredients I needed. I shopped our pantry to see what I already had, and made a list using tally marks for the rest. I stole this idea from a blog I read, and it worked great. (I’ll do better at remembering where I saw things and giving people proper credit…I’m new to this blogging thing.) Basically, you just write down the things you need and put tally marks next to them as you come across more of that item in another recipe. Genius! I ended up rewriting my list to be sure it was nice and neat. I also put it in order of departments, which made it much easier when I was at the store.

Next, I looked at the Brookshires sale paper. (Probably should have done this first.) I love Brookshires because it’s always nice, clean, and fully stocked. I don’t have time to shop around, so we’ll be saving on whatever they’re putting on sale. (I just won’t drive across town to save .50 on flour.) This week was a great week for my first big trip…so much great stuff was on sale! I adjusted my menu a tad to include some sale items and headed out! All in all, I probably spent 8 hours preparing…maybe a little more. I expect it to go faster as I get more experience.

The big sales at Brookshires really played in to my huge savings. Chicken was buy one, get one for a penny. Most of my menu was new chicken dishes, so this worked perfectly! There were several other things I needed that were on this promotion too, so we lucked out!

I’m also so very proud of my ground beef purchase, so much so that I have to blog about it! I needed 10 pounds of ground beef, and the bulk packages weren’t really that good of a deal. As I’m picking out my chicken, the meat market lady puts out some big packages of hamburger meat that caught my eye. They had been marked to half price for quick sale because they went out of date that day. This was perfect because I was planning to brown and freeze all the hamburger meat when I got home anyway! I ended up paying $20 for ground beef that I was going to have to pay $40 for. As silly as it sounds, I couldn’t wait for Matt to get off work so I could tell him about my steal. Between this and the buy one, get one for a penny sales, we really saved some money this month!

All in all, I’m pretty proud of my shopping trip. Doing my homework and preparing ahead of time, really made a huge difference. So far, I’ve only noticed a few small things that I forgot. Not too bad for my first time! I’m really hoping that having a month worth of groceries in the house and a clear plan will save us some valuable time and money. Guess we will see!

For those interested, I’ll post about my cooking/freezing adventure very soon. There’s lot going on in the Petrus household!

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear them!