Monday, July 25, 2016

Strawberry Swirl Brownie Recipe


In a bowl over low heat, heat water then dip bowl into water.  Melt chocolate and butter.  I used a Kitchenaid mixer, so I could mix without transferring the mixture to another bowl.  The bowl should be cool enough for you to touch, if it's too hot, turn your water heat down and remove bowl to cool.  



Remove bowl from heat and put it onto the kitchenaid stand.  Add cocoa and sugar.  Blend well. 


Add vanilla and sugar and mix well. 



Add Eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated.  Add flour and salt.  Pour mix into a greased 8x8 pan and top with strawberry jelly.  Run a knife through the jelly to mix into brownie dough. 






Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.


Serve with Driscoll strawberries dredged in sugar and whipped cream.  



5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup unsalted butter
2 T. cocoa
1 ½  cup sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
3 eggs
¾ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup strawberry jam
Makes 12 brownie cupcakes

In a bowl over hot water, melt chocolate and butter.  I use a kitchenaid mixer, so I just plunge the bottom of it into hot water and melt the chocolate so that I don’t have to transfer it into another bowl. 
Place bowl onto the kitchen aid mixer and mix in cocoa and sugar.  Next mix in vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Finally mix in flour and salt.   Spray and 8x8 pan with nonstick spray.  Place batter into pan and place a 16 spoonfuls of strawberry jam on top of each cupcake.  Swirl each cupcake with a knife then bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. 
Garnish with strawberry dredged in sugar and fresh whipped cream.


 Want to see my other recipes?  Check out my recipe index.  Recipe Index

This Week's Chore List Week 2

Remember:  You are not a martyr...You have a family and they can do chores too.  If you cannot complete everything, pick a chore that will stay completed longest when you finish it.  Sure you can clean out a sink every day,but in a few hours, it will be dirty again, but if you organize your master bathroom drawers, they will stay organized a month or more.  Work smarter, not harder.  




Daily list:
Take out trash
Make sure all items for dinner are available and make a list of anything needed
Clean up all breakfast dishes. Wash them and put them away
Quick clean main bathroom: Wipe off counter and sink, wipe off mirror. Put anything away that was left out. 
Make beds 
Start a load of laundry
Fold and put away a load of laundry
Wipe off kitchen counters and sink after each meal
Sweep kitchen floor after dinner
Scoop litter box 
Go through mail and either throw it out, deal with it or put it into the decision file
Run the dishwasher
Unload the dishwasher
Close the kitchen at the end of the day
What does close the kitchen mean? Click here to find out: Close the Kitchen
Weeklies this week:

Clean out the fridge before you grocery shop
Write your menu if you do it weekly
Grocery shop
Clean out the car
Deep clean your main bathroom and change the towels out
Wipe inside and outside of garbage can
Water plants
Wash bedding
Deep clean kitchen
Dust house
Pay bills
Vacuum entire house

Monthly or more:

Organize Living Room
Organize Main Bathroom
Organize Other Bathrooms
Organize Master Bedroom
Organize Bonus Room
Check your Calendar this week and see who has birthdays next month.  Buy and address cards


Organize your Bonus room.  If you do not have a bonus room, work on a room you did not finish.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Nectarine Blackberry Prosciutto Easy Appetizers




Talk about easy!  You can whip this appetizer up faster than you can wait in line at the grocery store to pay for a bakery cake.

You will need:
1 nectarine
1 pint blackberries
1 package prosciutto


Cut the nectarine into slices.  Wrap in prosciutto and place a blackberry on top.
#easy #appetizer #bookclub #Bunco #summer #food #wedding #blackberry

Want to see my other recipes?  Check out my recipe index here: Recipe Index

Friday, July 22, 2016

Stacked Enchiladas








This recipe is so easy.  I make a double stack for the females at home and a triple stack for the males.  I also serve it with rice to fill up my teen boys.  



1 lb ground beef
1 can or recipe for enchilada sauce   Recipe for Enchilada Sauce
1 onion, sliced and cooked
1 lb cheddar cheese shredded
1 lb tomatoes, chopped
1/2 head of lettuce shredded
jalapeno, sliced, to taste 
oil for frying
1 package corn tortillas



Prepare all ingredients before frying the corn tortillas so that they can be assembled as the corn tortillas are finished frying.  
Cook ground beef, heat sauce, cook onions, shred cheese, chop onion and lettuce and slice the jalapenos if you are using them.  
Heat oil in a pan until very hot.  Place one tortilla at a time into oil and fry about 10 seconds per side.  They will be slightly darker than when you started and will be crisp.  I place them onto a paper towel to drain.  

Place an enchilada onto a plate, top with sauce, cheese, tomato, onion, hamburger and lettuce.  Repeat with a second and third tortilla.  Serve warm. 


Want to see what else I have to offer?  Check my Recipe Index.  Recipe Index

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Two Recipes for Enchilada Sauce

Sure it's easy to buy a can of sauce at the grocery, but if you make your own, you can control the amount of fat in as well as the level of spice.   I have two recipes here.  One is a quick and easy version and the other is more authentic.  My family doesn't seem to notice which I use, they like them both.

Authentic Enchilada Sauce. 

3 dried ancho chilies
3 ounces tomato paste
1 T. Corn oil
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ t salt
½ t dried oregano
¼ tsp ground cumin
1 ½ cups beef broth


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place chilies on a cookie sheet and toast for four minutes.
Remove pulp, seeds and stems, then place peppers in a bowl.  Cover with hot water and soak for 1 hour.

Remove chilies from water.  In a blender,  combine chilies with tomato paste, oil, garlic, cumin salt and oregano.  Add 1 cup beef broth and blend until smooth.   Place in a saucepan with remaining beef broth and heat through. 



Easy Enchilada Sauce
8 ounces tomato sauce
3 ounces tomato paste
¾ cup beef broth
¼ t. salt
¼ t. dried oregano
¼ t. ground cumin
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 t. chili powder


Mix all ingredients in a saucepan over low heat.  Stir until smooth, then heat an additional 10 minutes on low heat.  Serve.


View my other recipes here recipe list

Learning to Like Foods - Teaching adults and kids to eat healthy



Did you know that research shows that you can learn to like foods?  What if I told you that in a month you and your family could be enjoying a meal full of vegetables?  Emma Francis is a picky eater.  I grew up with a mom who didn't know how to cook and thought that if you stuck a fork in a vegetable and it didn't slide off into two pieces, it wasn't finished cooking yet.  As a result, I hated vegetables.  I hate any slimy texture and the thought of overcooked vegetables still makes me want to gag.

I went out on my own and decided there is a world full of food out there that isn't spaghetti-O's, but by that time I was such a picky eater that I didn't like anything healthy.  Then one day I was reading a way to get kids to eat vegetables and I decided to give it a try.

At first I was scared.  I was too scared to go for a potent tasting vegetable, so I decided to go for cantaloupe.  I hated it.  The thought of all that orange yuk was disgusting.  The first day, I cut a piece and held my nose and licked it.  That was all I could manage.  I LICKED IT.  I couldn't even stand the thought of putting it into my mouth.  This was not going to work and I knew it, so the second day, I stared at it for ten minutes, then put it into my mouth and practically gagged chewing it.  Even two weeks in, I felt that I would never learn to like melon.  I would eat my piece daily, but I was more than happy to toss the rest out when it went mushy.

I am not exactly sure when the transformation took place.  At some point, I looked down, and the entire half melon was gone and I had enjoyed the sweet flavor of it while I ate it.

So far, I have learned to eat rice, green melon and cantaloupe, broccoli, hummus and onions.  There are probably a few other foods that slip my mind right now.

Currently I am working on beans.  Beans are going to take a while.  I can easily eat a ground up bean, like hummus or a white bean dip, but I cant stand the texture of beans in general.  Right now, I am finding ways to hide them in foods so that I develop a taste for them.  I will smash them and put them into spaghetti sauce or chili.  I even smash them and put them into burritos instead of leaving them whole.  Next, I will stop smashing them in foods.  After I can tolerate them whole, I will work on beans by themselves.


Have you learned to like any food?  How did you do it? #vegan #vegetarian #healthyeating #diet Shared with my friends over here:

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Strawberry Panna Cotta




This is the perfect dessert for a hot summer day and it is so easy to make.

First wash and cut up 16 ounces of Strawberries, then run them through a food processor.  Transfer the mixture to a sieve and press through to remove the seeds and pulp.  Discard seeds and pulp.


In a medium saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup of whole milk and allow to set for 5 minutes.


Turn heat to medium and dissolve gelatin.  Add remaining ingredients and cook until sugar is dissolved.

Transfer to wine glasses and refrigerate.   When firm, dollop with whipped cream.



Ingredients
  • 1 - 16 oz. container fresh strawberries washed and sliced
  • ½ c. whole milk
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 envelope gelatin
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • whipped cream, for garnish
Directions
  1. Puree the strawberries in a food processor until smooth
  2. Push the puree through a sieve to remove seeds. Discard seeds.  Set puree aside.
  3. Pour the whole milk into a large saucepan and sprinkle with gelatin
  4. Let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat to medium, and cook, stirring until gelatin dissolves and until the mixture simmers. DO NOT BOIL
  6. Add the strawberry puree, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla.
  7. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves.
  8. Pour mixture into 6 wine glasses
  9. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.
  10. Top with whipped cream and serve cold


For a list of all my recipes, click here  Recipe Index



MomsTheWord

Feed your family on $70 a week (teenagers included) Week 1



My rules:

No ramen/no premade mac n cheese and no hamburger helper
Fresh when possible

Hawaiian chicken skewers, rice, green beans
Spaghetti with homemade sauce, homemade garlic bread, salad of cucumber and tomato
Chicken soft Tacos, salsa chips or Rice
Hamburgers (turkey burgers or veg burgers) potato salad, green salad
Grilled bbq chicken, mashed potatoes 
Ham steak, carrots,  corn
Grilled chicken, potato wedges, mixed green beans, broccoli and carrots





Lunches:
Make your own salad
leftovers
Fajita Chicken Salad
Peanut butter sandwiches
Make your own pizza with tortilla as crust
Subs, homemade fries


Breakfasts
Cereal rice crispies
toast and eggs
pancakes with strawberry
smoothie or smoothie bowl
peanut butter on toast

I dont make desserts nightly, but I do make them a once or twice a week.  

Desserts:
brownies
rice crispie treats
Ice cream


What could I do to make it cheaper?  Click over to my shopping list with prices and a list of ideas I could have used to make this week cheaper.

Continue on here:  FREE COPY of my Shopping list with prices are here:   Shopping list with prices.


public domain photo from pixabay.com



How To Start A Circle Journal



What is a circle journal?  It is a way of deciding what you want to prioritize in your life, then making sure that you are working on those priorities.  A good way to start is to think about some goals.  What do you want to be doing in a year?  What do you want to be doing in 5 years?  Now think about some steps you can take to reach your goals.   It is also a way of simplifying your life.  You can choose not to do things that do not work towards your goal.   If you see something that you are doing that does not fit into your plan, you can exchange it for something that does fit into your plan.  An example would be that you notice you overeat every night while watching two hours of tv.  Is watching tv on your plan?  What is on your plan that would get you away from food and engaged in the life you want to live? 

I have listed below some suggested areas for your circle journal.  These are suggestions.  I have a blank form that you can print out that does not include areas, so feel free to write your own.   Feel free to come back at any time and print out more forms. 


 
Grab a 3 ring binder and put some notebook paper into it for your journal.   You will be journaling about your goals, how they relate to your long term goals and anything else you feel like writing about.   Each time you do something to work towards a goal, use a colored pencil and color in an area. 

Circle Journal:
1.        Family and Friends
2.       Personal Development
3.       Spirituality
4.       Finance
5.       Career
6.       Marriage
7.       Fun and Recreation
8.       Giving/Contribution (Volunteering)
9.       Physical Environment
1.   Health and Fitness

Set a goal under each area.  To give you an idea, here are my goals. Your goals should be personal to you.

1.       Family and Friends
Spend at least an hour this week with a friend. 
Call or text someone every day
Make a new friend and follow through
Greet new neighbors and take a welcome basket
Host a block party
Mentor a new mom
Take each kid out for a special lunch

2.       Personal Development
Review Math in Kahn Academy. 
Study flags of the world
Read one book per month
Set personal goals every month and track them
Do something kind to another person
Write specific goals out in steps and track them
Take a class every year

3.       Spirituality
Have a quiet time every day
Keep a prayer journal

4.       Finance
Study one stock per week
Stay out of debt
Save six months expenses for an emergency fund
Buy another rental house
Save to pay cash for new cars

5.       Career
Work more often /Complete Modules for work
Speak at a conference
Work on book at least 3 days per week (if you are writing one)
Start a podcast
Publish at least 1 uplifting blogpost per week

6.       Marriage
Have a date night
Vacation at least once a year
Plan an anniversary celebration
Say “I love you”
Start a hobby together that you both enjoy


7.       Fun and Recreation
Plan a day trip for 2 weekend days each month. 
Travel to Grand Canyon, Canada and Bahamas
Try something new
Teach kids to cook

8.       Giving/Contribution (Volunteering)
Search for a volunteer activity I can do with my older kids
Pay for a stranger’s gas
Buy Christmas presents for a needy family
Be more perceptive about who is in need
Give money to charities
9.       Physical Environment
Declutter
Decorate dining room, living room and master bedroom
Hire a maid to help out
Clean out garage twice per year
1     Health and Fitness
Walk at least 30 minutes per day. Work up to 50.
Learn to like Brussel sprouts and cauliflower


Look at each category and think about where you currently stand.  Is there an area where you would normally score very low?  Do you find yourself so busy with family that you have no time for friends?  Do you find yourself so busy with work that you find no time for proper diet and exercise? 

I will post some of my ideas and pictures of my journal in another thread. 


Free Circle Journal Printout

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Grilled corn and tomato salad (vegan)




If you like this recipe or like to cook, join my facebook group here:  Facebook

This Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad goes great with my recipe for Paprika Shrimp which can be found here.    Paprika Grilled Shrimp

This is the perfect recipe for when you have leftover corn.  I grilled it for a few minutes just to give it a grilled taste, but it was leftover from a cookout yesterday.

Mince Jalapeno pepper and place in a bowl.  Add 1/2 of a fresh squeezed lemon.



 Cut 1 Large tomato or two small tomatoes into bite sized pieces.



Cut corn off of the cob.



Chop about 3 tablespoons Flat Leaf Parsley.  Add all ingredients to bowl.

Toss


Serve with Shrimp and Rice





IF YOU LIKE IT PIN IT!  Pin

You will need:
1 large or 2 small beefsteak tomatoes
3 T. flat leaf parsley
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 T. jalapeno pepper minced
Corn from 2 ears of grilled corn, sliced from the cob.
Salt to taste (I dont use any)


#vegan
Recipe Index  My Index of Recipes

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Free Printout - Circle Journal Page


to get copy right click link below to open in new window

My Rant about "Good China" Think KonMari Minimalism!

Let me take a moment here to talk about our fancy dishes and silverware. Long Long ago, before I was married, a friend of mine got married, and about a year later, invited me to her house for dinner. She sat me at her dining room table next to her china cabinet full of pretty china and fancy flatware. While I was eating, I noticed that my fork was discolored and wearing out. I commented that they had not lasted long and she said no, that she agreed that they didnt last long at all. So I asked her why she was eating off of awful looking flatware when she had some really pretty stuff in her cabinet. Her reply was, "That is for SPECIAL" occasions. I suddenly felt unspecial. Having me over didnt warrant using the "GOOD" flatware.
A few weeks later, hubby's grandmother unexpectedly died. We went to her house, and his mom was opening box after box of unused china, glasses, linens and more. I had not seen any of it, nor had his mom. Over the years, a "special" occasion had never happened. Or at least not an occasion special enough. I decided right then and there that I would never do that. Everyone who comes to my house is special, each meal is special, every day we spend together is precious and special. We use our expensive china. Sure I dropped a cup here and there, and 15 years in, some of my plates had a chip or two, but I want my family to look at my things and say, "remember we ate off of this every time we visited?" not, "wow I guess we werent special enough to ever see this". People are more important than things. Use your things. Make them help bring joy to you and your family. What "things" have you stored away that could be bringing you and your family joy?


Have a look at my organized fridge HERE Organized Konmari Fridge
Or take a look at a week of very low budget family food Emergency food budget (very low)



© Emma Francis and EmmaFrancisishome@bloger.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Emma Francis and EmmaFrancisishome@blogger.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#konmari #minimalism 
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This Week's Chore list wk 1

Remember:  You are not a martyr...You have a family and they can do chores too.  If you cannot complete everything, pick a chore that will stay completed longest when you finish it.  Sure you can clean out a sink every day,but in a few hours, it will be dirty again, but if you organize your master bathroom drawers, they will stay organized a month or more.  Work smarter, not harder.  




Daily list:
Take out trash
Make sure all items for dinner are available and make a list of anything needed
Clean up all breakfast dishes. Wash them and put them away
Quick clean main bathroom: Wipe off counter and sink, wipe off mirror. Put anything away that was left out. 
Make beds 
Start a load of laundry
Fold and put away a load of laundry
Wipe off kitchen counters and sink after each meal
Sweep kitchen floor after dinner
Scoop litter box 
Go through mail and either throw it out, deal with it or put it into the decision file
Run the dishwasher
Unload the dishwasher
Close the kitchen at the end of the day
What does close the kitchen mean? Click here to find out: Close the Kitchen
Weeklies this week:

Clean out the fridge before you grocery shop
Write your menu if you do it weekly
Grocery shop
Clean out the car
Deep clean your main bathroom and change the towels out
Wipe inside and outside of garbage can
Water plants
Wash bedding
Deep clean kitchen
Dust house
Pay bills
Vacuum entire house

Monthly or more:

Organize a drawer or shelf in your house (the worst one)
Organize your main bathroom
Organize all other bathrooms
Organize the master bedroom


Organize your Bonus room.  If you do not have a bonus room, work on a room you did not finish.

What Does "Close the Kitchen" mean?

What does "Close the kitchen" mean? It means after dinner, wash and put away the dishes, wipe the counters and stove, then sweep the floor. After that point if anyone sets foot into the kitchen, they must clean it. I close my kitchen at 8pm.


Since my family and I have started to do this, the mess in our house has gone way down.  You may choose to close your kitchen earlier than I do, but there are days when hubby doesn't get home from work until 7:30 and it's unfair to ask him to clean the kitchen because he has worked a long day.  

I go to bed each night with a clean kitchen.  The dishes are done and put away, I can sleep knowing it's not a wreck and there are dishes for people to eat breakfast with in the morning.  I have to say this has been a lifesaver.  Even if I cant finish all my daily chores, I do this one.  




Check out a week's chore's here:  Weekly List

Friday, July 15, 2016

Mahogany Chicken







This recipe can also be prepared vegan using a tofu style chickn and coconut sugar  or using real chicken.     

Mahagony chicken is my kid’s favorite chicken.  I simplify a recipe that is online so that it is easy to make.   Hoison sauce is a rich bbq style sauce with a really deep flavor, my local grocery sells 4 ounces for $5 but you can buy it online cheaper.  

Cut chicken into strips


Combine all ingredients except chicken in a small bowl to make the sauce.  Reserve about 1/4 cup for basting.


Place bowl of sauce and chicken in a Ziploc bag and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.



Remove chicken from fridge and place in baking dish.  Cook for 10 minutes then remove and baste with reserved sauce.



Place back in oven for an additional 15 minutes.  Remove and serve over rice.


Here is my version of the recipe:
4 chicken breasts deboned and cut into bite sized pieces (or any tofu made in chckn style)
Combine:
1 clove of garlic, minced
5 tablespoons dark brown sugar (half if you don’t like sweet food)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup hoison sauce
2 tsp basalmic vinegar

Mix ingredients for sauce.  Reserve about ½ cup for basting.   Place the remaining sauce into a zip lock bag and add chicken.  Marinate for at least 15 minutes, but up to 2 hours.  Bake chicken at 375 for 10 minutes then remove and baste.  Return chicken to oven for an additional 15 minutes. If you cut your pieces small, they may need a little less time, or if they were cold they may need a few more minutes.   Serve over rice.



If you like this recipe and are interested in cleaning and organizing, head over to view my organized fridge.  My organized Fridge


For an easy to print version of this recipe click here  printable chicken recipe

See all my recipes here:  recipe index



© Emma Francis and EmmaFrancisishome@bloger.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Emma Francis and EmmaFrancisishome@blogger.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Feed Your Family on $70 Week 2 (With Teens)



Feeding your family, especially when you have teen boys can be pretty difficult.  Costs can skyrocket, but with a little planning, you can feed your family for $70 a week.  This week, I shopped at Aldi and Kroger.

One thing you can do to help your budget is to buy a month's worth of the meat special.  You may not be able to do this from the start, but if you can pick up 2 weeks worth it will help you in the long run to manage your costs.

My rules are:  as few prepackaged foods as possible (no ramen, no hamburger helper and no kraft mac n cheese)  If you want to make your budget lower, you could include those, but I prefer healthy foods to premade ones.


Menu:
Chicken drumsticks/macaroni and cheese/broccoli
Hamburger/cheeseburger on bun/corn on cob/salad
Bbq pork/tomato grilled corn salad/potato wedges
Spaghetti with meat sauce (and lentils)/green salad or green beans
Mahogany chicken made with turkey breast/mango and pineapple salsa
Turkey stew with leftover turkey (carrots and potatoes) biscuits

Breakfast for dinner- bacon, eggs pancakes



Here are some of the prices I paid for this week's food:


Kroger:
Boneless pork loin 1.79/lb (I bought a whole one which is huge)
Milk 1.99
Turkey breast .99/lb ( I bought 2- one for now, one for later)
Kroger cheese 1.88
Peaches  .99/lb
Corn 6/$2
Potatoes                     
Green beans 99cents/lb
 canned tuna
peanut butter
bread
bananas
mozz cheese 1.89
pizza sauce 1.00


Aldi:
Hamburger 1.89/lb
Salad greens .69 and 1.49
Chicken drumsticks .69 a lb
Pineapple 1.19
Mango .49 each
Onion .78/2 lbs
Tomatoes .99/lb
flour 
eggs
carrots


For breakfast, we eat oatmeal or eggs and toast.  Sometimes we have cereal but the kids are tired of it right now, so I didnt buy any.  We have some leftover cereal from last week. 
Lunches:  Sandwiches, leftovers, tuna,  we have bananas and peaches and pineapple for fruit snacks this week as well as some leftover apples (there may be a mango leftover).  Homemade pizza



When I make homemade pizza, the costliest ingredient is the yeast.  I try to buy that in bulk.  I buy a jar of premade pizza sauce and freeze what I dont use.   I get 2 to 3 pizza's out of a jar of sauce, and 2 to 3 from the block of mozz cheese.  We like our pizza with pineapple.  When I buy one, any we dont eat right away gets frozen and used for things like this. 


The key is to use everything.  Do not waste food.  I rarely throw food out.  I try to buy a different fruit each week depending on what is on sale.  I freeze anything we dont eat and if we get enough, I make smoothies for breakfast.  

If we have leftover veggies, I either serve them again, or make broth out of them.  I also make and freeze chicken broth (or turkey).  


I bought a turkey breast this week. I will cut the meat from it, cube it and freeze it and use it in recipes that call for chicken breast.  I will boil the bones for the turkey stew and use any leftover meat from that I can salvage.  I may add some additional meat if needed.  


What foods help you stay in budget? 







How to Purchase a Home When You Want to be a Stay at Home Mom



Love Recipes, Decluttering and Mom Talk?  Join my Facebook group Group Here


If you have kids now, or plan to have them in the near future, buying a house where your kids will live can seem like walking through a foreign country where you don't speak the language.  Here are a few things you should know about buying your first home.


You should put down 20% as a down payment.  If you do not have 20% to put down, you will have to pay the bank something called PMI.  Basically you pay them extra money every month as a penalty for not putting 20% down.  If you have to put down less, once you are sure that you have 20%, you can request the bank remove the PMI.  Sounds great, right ?   Did you know that if you buy a house for 300,000 and put 10% down (at an interest rate of 3%), after one year, you will have paid $476.23 of your mortgage and $8,022 in interest?  It would take 5 years of paying your regular mortgage rate before you have the required 20 percent.   You could get lucky during those 5 years and your home value could go up, or you could be unlucky and the value of your home could go down.  It happens, it has happened before and it will happen again.



If you want to be a stay at home mom, you will also need to watch budget.  Most sites tell you that your mortgage needs to stay below 20% of your income (some say 25).  The key to this is your income.  If you have a high income, you can spend a larger percent of your income on your mortgage, but if you have a low income, you need to spend a lower percent on your home.  A family with a take home pay of 100,000 that spends 25,000 a year on their home has 75,000 income left for other things, while a family with a take home pay of 40,000 a year would have 30,000 left to spend on other things.  Your ability to be a stay at home mom depends on your debts and your ability to pay them.  Keep this in mind when choosing a home.


So you picked a home.  It costs 300,000 and you have exactly 60,000 in savings!  You can put 20% down and move right in!  Wait.  There are other costs involved in buying a home that you will have to pay for.  You will have to pay the bank money to get a loan.  You will need an inspections, title insurance plus a few other things.  The fees on our first home were nearly 7,000 and I was shocked.  I cant just tell you what the fees are, because some of them are a percentage of the home price, but expect to pay well over 1% of the value of your home.   You will also need a cushion.  We moved into a home last year and the day after we moved in, a brown out occurred and destroyed both of our air conditioning units.   It cost $5,000 to replace the large one and $3,000 to replace the smaller one.  As a guide, I would estimate three to six months living expenses in a savings account as an emergency fund.


You read an article that says that Realtor get a commission of 5 to 6% when they sell a house, and you want to save that money for yourself!  You decide to buy a home that is for sale by owner.  I would not recommend it.  While many people have purchased homes for sale by owner, there is a reason the seller does not want to use a Realtor.  A Realtor is a trained professional that knows all the laws involved in buying a home and can help you out if you get into a sticky situation.  I would highly recommend using a Realtor for your first home purchase.  When we bought our first home, the original owner built a building over the property line.  We would have thought it was ok, and moved on with the sale, but our Realtor explained that we could not get title insurance with a building over the line and a neighbor could sue us at any time.  Not the way to start off  life in your new home.  Think of a Realtor like a nurse in the hospital.  It may appear that she is coming in to talk to you and bring you drinks, but she is assessing you each time she enters the room.  She has a purpose and you may not feel that you need her, but if something is going to go wrong, she will be the first person to spot it and she will move quickly to take care of a problem before it escalates.  Realtors are well  worth the money they make.   Don't risk losing your home because you wanted to save a little money.


So you have an emergency fund of four months expenses, and you have 20 percent to put down on your house, plus you have saved an extra $7,000 for the fees involved in buying a house.  You have made sure that the house fits in your budget.  You are now ready to buy your first house!   Happy Hunting!