SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

By request of Georgina 🙂

Sometimes I just can’t find a recipe that exactly fits whatever it is I’m craving, or happen to have on hand.  That’s when some of my favorite concoctions are born. Sometimes they backfire, but this was yummy and filling.

Sausage & Potato casserole
1 package smoked sausage ( I always do beef)
1 bag frozen skillet potatoes
2 cans cream of whatever (I use potato) soup

Slice and brown the sausage.  Dump all of it in a labeled freezer bag.  On cooking day, dump the concoction in the crockpot with 1/2 cup of milk.  I also add a bag of shredded cheese – I really like cheese.  I’m sure sour cream or Greek yogurt would only make it better. Crockpot on low 6-8 hours.

If you try it, let me know what you think!

~ Katie

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When Grizzly and I were first married, living in the “love trailer” in the metropolis of Bethany, LA, our home was decorated in hand-me-downs and NASCAR.  After moving to town, our family room still carried the theme, as did Monkey #1’s room when he graduated to toddler-hood.  Monkey had a racecar bed, autographed dirt track photos on the walls, and Grizzly even painted an IMCA Modified on one wall.

It made perfect sense, then, when the Tony Stewart car appeared at the Home Depot in Shreveport to take the lil guy.  He was fascinated and thrilled to climb in the car.  It was almost as cool as Uncle Ace’s firetrucks.

I wanted a special frame to commemorate this occasion, so I bought one of the wooden craft frames at Michael’s and got to work.

Fast forward about twelve years and that cool frame, along with his sister’s, was still in my project bucket.

I’m proud to sat I actually finished both frames this summer.


I’ve since added a Tony Stewart car, an old Home Depot one, thanks to Papaw.

image Monkey #2’s frame doesn’t have a cute photo yet, but I have one when she was about the same age, where she’s chowing down on a frozen waffle. That may be the ticket.
One project down!

How do you get your unfinished crafts knocked out?

~ Katie

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My family is blessed to live near a beautiful US Air Force Base, Barksdale AFB, home of the B-52 bomber. The base is an incredible asset to our community. Nearly every spring since I moved here in 1992, they’ve opened the gates and invited the public in for an air show, which never disappoints!

Barksdale has hosted the air show since 1933 so the public can see what the role of the base is in our community. A lot of the base is on display during the air show, things the general public doesn’t have daily access to. Not only are there in-air displays of talented pilots in really cool planes, but visitors may also tour a lot of planes, helicopters, etc.

When Monkey #1 was a really little guy, we would go with Aunt YoYo to the main fire house and hang with Uncle Ace, who worked there. We didn’t have to worry so much about parking or having a good view – the fire house was nearly the best seat!

In more recent years, we’ve attended with friends. We love to walk the flight line, buy frozen lemonades, and see what is going on.
This year was a little different. Grizzly and the monkeys had a party to attend in the afternoon. We weren’t too sure about traffic and crowds, let alone how much money we tend to spend on food, drinks and souvenirs. In some neighborhoods, you can see the air show from the back yards, so we decided to take the kids to Mike Woods Park, grill, play, and see how it went.
image It was nice to have access to shade.
The monkeys found plenty to do in between planes.
And they made some new friends.

We didn’t have to wait in any lines or worry about parking. Our only expense was picnicky stuff that we would buy anyway. We could come and go as we pleased, and it was a really nice afternoon.

Now that we figured out how convenient the park is, I can’t wait to see the 2015 show!

What are some family fun activities you have tried?

~ Katie

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{August 30, 2014}   Recipe: Make Ahead Breakfast

In the House of Cheaptitude, we consume enough instant oatmeal to sink the Titanic again. If we breakfast out, usually two out of four of us will eat breakfast burritos. And if there are breakfast bars of any kind in the house? Forget about it.

It may not seem like a huge financial burden, but a box of oatmeal packets is at least $1.89 at my beloved Brookshire’s, and contains only 8-10 packs. Even the little monkey eats 2 packs at a time. Breakfast burritos, at the grocery, are over a dollar each. This kind of thing adds up quickly. And don’t get me started on all of the weird fake stuff that’s in them. I like my fake stuff as much as the next chick, but I can probably make it a little healthier myself.

A couple of weeks ago, I consulted my good friend Google and found all kinds of recipes for all of these convenience foods. I actually whipped up the oatmeal packets and breakfast burritos.

Easy Breakfast Burritos
12 eggs
1 pkg ground sausage or bacon
1 bag shredded cheese
The man-sized flour tortillas

I actually made some sausage, some bacon, and some cheese-free. I started out by frying the meat. Then I scrambled in some eggs. Sprinkle cheese over the tortillas. Add the egg mixture and wrap the tortilla tightly. Bake in the oven for a few minutes, just long enough for the burritos to hold their shape. Flash freeze (30 or so minutes) seam side down. Wrap individually in plastic wrap. I was able to fit about 6 in each gallon freezer bag. I labeled with the date, type, and heating instructions. Microwaving on high for 30-60 seconds works for my microwave oven, and covering with a damp paper towel keeps the tortillas soft. They’ve been a total hit. And cheaper than Sonic!

I had *planned* to make granola bars, but ran out of oats.

DIY Instant Oatmeal Packets

snack sized zip bags
2 containers quick oats
1 teaspoon salt
1 – 1½ cups brown sugar
1 cup powdered creamer (I used hazelnut flavor from the Dollar Tree!)

Dump 1 container of oats into a large bowl. Add the other container of oats to a food processor or a blender. Blend until almost powdery, then pour into the large bowl. Stir well. Add the remainjng ingredients to your large bowl. Mix well until everything is combined.

Measure ½ cup of the oatmeal mixture into each snack sized plastic baggie and seal. This is when I added dried bananas, dried blueberries, even gummy fruit snacks. The add-in possibilities are endless!

Prep and microwave just like the store-bought variety.

According to some recipes, powdered milk can be used, but has a tendency to begin to mold (ugh!). I like the flavored creamers from the dollar store anyway.

So at the beginning of school I had thirty breakfast burritos in the freezer and thirty packs of oatmeal. I spent around $15 for everything. Not bad!

What money saving ideas do you have for breakfast?

~ Katie

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From the beginning of August until Memorial Day, the weekends feel rushed and crazy. I feel like I’ve accomplished something major if everyone has clean clothes for the week and I’ve been to the grocery.

Yes, I am a Middle School teacher.

In a typical school year, my Friday nights consist of grades and recorded TV.  Sunday – most of the day – is spent writing or revising lesson plans.

Friday has a different look this year, with date night, but the only really exciting thing about my weekends right now is sleeping past 4 am.

I set a goal at the beginning of the summer to have my house situated (read clean and organized) by the start of school so that the first few weeks of August wouldn’t be so rough. While I made major progress, this goes on the list of incomplete projects. Labor Day weekend is my make up!

I can often accomplish more on a 3-day weekend than a 2-week holiday break.

My list of projects this weekend looks something like this:

1. Inventory and restock the pantries. I’d like to reconfigure the shelving while I’m at it, but Grizzly has a tight work schedule this weekend.

2. Catch up my freezer meals.  Y’all know I’m all about my freezer to crockpot and I only have 3 in the deep freeze right now.

3.  Laundry. Need I detail this? Oy.  I do need to make another monster batch of laundry soap while I’m projecting.

4.  Deep clean the kitchen.

5.  Deep clean the living room.

6.  Straighten my bedroom and bath.  It looks like my classroom has vomited on my side of the bed!

7.  Cut back the front flower bed and do some miscellaneous yard work.

8. Monkey #1’s closet.

The rewards for this, apart from a livable House of Cheaptitude? I’ll allow myself some scrapbook time and do my monthly hair treatment.  But I have to get the rest done 1st!

I should be able to knock a lot out today. Monkey #1 is cousin timing at Comic Con. Monkey #2 is having girly time with her Nana – pedi and a movie! And Grizz is working.  My friends are all out of town, so my distractions should be very few.  Wish me luck!

What are your big plans this holiday weekend?

~ Katie

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This past spring was horribly difficult in the House of Cheaptitude. I would prefer to never have a repeat. However, everything happens for a reason, and I feel like part of what I went through brought me some amazing experiences with the monkeys that I otherwise may not have taken the time to enjoy.

Easter weekend was a real bonding event for us this year.  We worked hard, played hard, and had a lot of fun.

The monkeys have always enjoyed digging in the dirt.  My front flower bed needed some serious attention, so I Tom Sawyered them.  We went to a plant stand, where I thought we were just getting a few flats of annuals. Nope, my babies wanted knockout roses!
I did get my annual flat of impatiens….

When we came home, the work really began. Pulling shrubs and trash from the flower bed, deciding where to move some perennials, choosing places for the new additions…

The monkeys were such a help with cleanup!

It was hot, grubby work!
image image

Monkey #1 wanted his roses by the garage, dressing up the driveway a bit.

Monkey #2 preferred the front flower bed.

She also “helped” with my annuals.
Once our $27 worth of plants were in the ground, the rest of the front needed some clean up.

My monkeys had a great time in the yard, but were even more excited to dye eggs.

I hate to spend money if I don’t have to, so we consulted Google, and figured out how to dye eggs with food coloring and vinegar. The smell was on the atrocious side, but it was a lot of fun.

image image The colors were so vibrant!

I was present pretty much in a supervisory capacity. The monkeys picked out the food coloring, concocted the dyes, and colored the eggs. I was there to keep them from coloring my kitchen – or each other!

Exhaustion set in kind of early that night. Monkey #2’s biggest concern as she went to bed was if Pioneer Woman came to help with the bathroom, she needed to be very careful not to run over the Easter Rabbit. The baskets on the table and eggs in the yard the next morning were proof enough.
image image

They were absolutely enthralled with all of the goodies!
Used to hunting the plastic eggs, the monkeys got a kick out of searching for eggs they’d colored themselves.
Monkey #2 wasn’t much of an eagle eye….

image She repeatedly walked past several eggs.
image Thank goodness big brother was there to boss direct her!

image image

It took over an hour for them to locate all of their Easter eggs. By the time they were finished, they needed a big breakfast to refuel for church.


(I love sunrise service for Easter, but Pioneer Woman convinced me to try out St. Mark’s midmorning.)
Grizzly and the monkeys did Easter dinner with his family, while I slowed down enough to watch the skiers from Pioneer Woman’s back patio and have dinner with her. All in all, it was a successful weekend.

What tips do you have for quality family holiday weekends without breaking the bank?

~ Katie

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{August 23, 2014}   Project: Cute Wooden Catch All

Many years ago, I picked up the cutest wooden wall box on clearance at a hobby store.  Love love love.  My original intent was to hang it by the door for mail and such. Now I’m not so sure.

It’s collected dirt and dust for years, sitting in my project bucket. Recently I decided to bring it out again.

My plan now is to use it in my kitchen. I cleaned up the years of grime and pondered. I’m working more black pieces in all the time, so I sprayed it with flat black.
image image image It isn’t perfect, but I see the potential. I’m going to add fleur de lis, of course. It’s meant to hang on a wall, but I’m thinking of adding strong magnets and putting it on the fridge. I can see adding a clip for recipes, and using the storage for restaurant certificates and coupons. What do you think?

So it’s painted, but that is as much progress as I’ve made with my little project. I may change my mind and use it someplace else – oooh, oooh, my bathroom? The monkey’s bathroom??

I’m totally open to suggestions, folks. What purpose can my little project serve?

~ Katie

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{August 20, 2014}   Monkey Spaces: DIY Organization

The little monkey is growing up quickly!  She decided recently that she’s outgrown Tinker Bell, along with a lot of her books, toys, and decor.  Her papaw promised her a new headboard and footboard if she kept her room clean for a month. I think she’s doing a great job! She’s picking up toys, books are shelved, dirty clothes are hampered, and she’s making her bed daily!

I’m hopeful she’ll earn that frame she wants.

While cleaning and reorganizing, we moved a lot of things around, including her dresser and bed. We dismantled the desktop computer and removed the old-fashioned school desk, creating great space. She still has “room for activities” yet her space looks more tween appropriate.

One thing she showed an interest in was a set of shelves in the garage. Yo Yo’s sweet husband, the Fireman, and I built them many years ago for Grizzly’s diecast collection. Once we moved, they didn’t really go with our new direction, so we put them in the garage, where the got dirty and became a dumping ground for crap.

I measured the shelves, measured the wall, and realized it could be done. The shelves were built for 1:24 model cars, though, not books and games and toys.

We stacked several books on the shelves, but there was a ton of leftover space. Monkey put some of her Littlest Pet Shop and Lego sets in canvas bins on the shelves. Her awesome 31 totes are too tall. I had an idea, though.

Soup can organizers!

She picked out stickers and paper and pretty duct tape for her organizers.

I envisioned labeling them for her arts and crafts, but she snatched them up as soon as the decoupage was dry!

Another goodie we have on hand this time of the year is the oh so versatile shoebox. I decided to cover one to match her other organizers. She can keep some of her other little toys in it.
image image
I glued the paper down, Scotch taped it in place, and then sealed with decoupage. I think it was a great idea and it fits on her shelves.

I haven’t taken a photo of monkey’s organized shelves, mostly because it’s an unfinished project! But it’s a fun one.

How do you organize your kiddos’ spaces?

~ Katie

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{August 19, 2014}   Organizing: Greeting Cards

I like to keep cards on hand.  However, I cannot find a single one when I actually need it.

I’ve bought cutesy organizers in the past. That works for about a hot minute.

I’ve seen really cool strategies on Pinterest. But nothing I think will necessarily work for me.

And I love to repurpose.

Once upon a time, I was addicted to those photo storage boxes. When the craft stores would run specials, I’d purchase a bunch. I was pretty particular – black, with a handmade scrapbook label. VHS movies = organized.

As I’ve decluttered those dinosaur tapes, I’ve kept the boxes. Of course. Everything can be repurposed. I now have one for razors/shave preps, deodorant, etc. These boxes are great for my stockpiles. For the longest time, I had one dedicated to loose game pieces, and one to Nintendo DS and gameboy games.

I had a feeling one of these boxes might be an easy solution to my greeting card issue. One year for Christmas, my father-in-law gave me two very pretty photo boxes. I decided to create my card organizer from one of these.

It’s very pretty, without being too horribly girly.

I had to search high and low for the dividers. I had nearly given up and decided to create some when I located them in Grandma Sweitzer’s cedar chest.

The “index” side does nothing for me. I flipped the cards over, and created my category labels.

These are the categories I’ve chosen so far:
Get well
Just because (blank notes!!)
Thank you
Thinking of you

I’ll probably throw anniversaries in with wedding. I have more blank cards than anything, and need desperately to stock up on birthday cards – Aunt YoYo and Ace say it’s not a birthday without a monkey card.

It may not be as big a project as I usually take on, but it is functional. All I have left is to tape a small calendar of important dates to the lid.

And I actually use it!

How do you keep up with cards and such?

~ Katie

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{August 19, 2014}   Mini Project: Whiteboard Redo

In a valiant attempt to avoid lesson planning and paper grading, I’ve been working on projects around the house. My favorite was my bathroom. Lately I’ve been working in the utility room.

My utility room is an awkward little space between the garage and kitchen. It has a full sized dryer, a stackable washer and dryer (dryer conked out years ago but washer works!) and 2 little cabinets above the big dryer. All that is on one side. On the other are a small pantry and a utility closet turned pantry.

I’m dying to paint. My pantry shelves need work. But there’s only so much I can do.

I’ve reorganized the mess out of the pantries and laundry stuff. And, if you’ve been reading, I’ve been revamping things I’ve already had in order to decorate that room. My green scrapbook paper seems to be the unifying element, since I’ve been using it for everything.

Several years ago, I picked up a small whiteboard on clearance at Michaels with the grand design of writing my objectives on it. Ha! I can barely fit a readable “I (the learner) can….” on that board. So I brought it home and eventually hung it near the pantry. Occasionally I’ll leave notes for Grizz or the monkeys, little reminders, etc. The monkeys draw lots of silly pictures on it.

But I never dressed it up.

And everything else is getting cute.

Time for a quick project?

I painted the frame a green that matched my standard paper. Then, I used a heart punch with black paper to add interest in the corners. Finally, I “monogrammed” it using a polka dot green scrap stack letter. I decoupaged to seal it, them hung it horizontally (it was vertical before.)

I goes well with my other utility projects and it serves a purpose.

Do you dress up your utility room?

~ Katie

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et cetera
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