Friday, October 24, 2008

Creamy Onion Soup

This quick, easy and inexpensive Creamy Onion Soup had dh raving about how tasty it was ... even after I told him that it was healthy too! This creamy soup doesn't contain any dairy products. (The creamy consistency results from the use of a potato. Who knew? LOL!) And can be thrown together with items most people keep in their pantry. Add some warm bread and a simple green salad and we had a nice, satisfying, yet inexpensive meal.

This recipe is from a really great blog that I've only recently discovered: Dutch Girl Cooking. The blog is full of great ideas and amazing photos. Be sure to check it out for detailed step-by-step Creamy Onion Soup photos. And while you're visiting Dutch Girl Cooking, be sure to check out her recipe for Stuffed Zucchini that I'm planning to make this weekend!

Creamy Onion Soup

Recipe from Dutch Girl Cooking

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups beef broth
1 potato

2 slices white bread (stale)
grated cheese
1 tbsp oil

Coarsely chop onions and potato. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil or 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large sauce pan. Add onions, potato and 1 teaspoon dried thyme. Stir; lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Cut 2 stale slices of white bread (I used wheat) into cubes. Add some chopped fresh herbs. (I used basil and parsley.) Mix with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

Stir onion mixture. Add salt, pepper and a touch of nutmeg. Replace lid

Place bread crumb mixture into an oven safe baking dish and liberally sprinkle with grated cheese. (I used Parmesan.) Place in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Stir and return to oven until bread cubes are browned and crunchy. Remove from oven and crumble slightly.

Add beef broth to the onion mixture. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Using a blender or food processor, puree the soup until smooth.

Serve in a bowl with croutons sprinkled on top.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

We're One of the Lucky Ones

We aren't in danger of losing our home.

Hubby's job is secure (at least for now.)

We don't have to go to bed hungry every night.

But we aren't saving money the way we should. Hubby makes decent money but yet at the end of every week, there's not as much money left as there should be. We have four kids that need to go to college and hopefully someday we'll be able to enjoy hubby's retirement. We need to get a grip on this whole financial thing. Now. Before it becomes an emergency.

We made some choices long ago that will help make this transition a little easier.

  • We drive older cars. The insurance is less and we don't have to have a monthly car payment.
  • We bought "less" house than we could have. "Less", according to the bank and the real estate agents must mean that a two-story house with 3 bedrooms and two baths, two+ acres, a two-car garage, a barn and a storage shed is not enough space for two parents and one young child. We bought based on what we could afford on hubby's salary so that I wasn't going to have to work simply to support the house.
  • I shop garage sales when I can. I worked in a good department store during college so I know good, quality brands when I see them. A good percentage of my daughters' wardrobes comes from consignment stores and garage sales. Gap Kids, Limited Too, Abercrombie & Fitch, Tommy Hilfiger ... all looking like new and picked up for pennies on the dollar.
  • We don't use credit cards. At. All. If we can't afford to pay cash for it, we don't need it.
  • I enjoy cooking so I cook almost all of our meals at home. We rarely eat out and when we do it's a special event, not something taken for granted and forgotten a few hours later.

We're lucky. Very lucky. In December 2001, hubby was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). AML is an aggressive form of luekemia that doesn't offer a very good prognosis. Of all the other AML patients we met during the 18 months that hubby battled this horrible disease, Hubby is the only survivor. Right before hubby was diagnosed we discovered that I was pregnant with our fourth child. It was a pretty traumatic time for all of us. As the saying goes, when it rains it pours. At the end of my pregnancy, I developed my own life-threatening condition, Peripartum Cardiomyopathy. My heart became enlarged and was unable to pump, thrusting me into congestive heart failure and into a stay in the ICU.

I'll say it again: We were lucky. Hubby went into remission and has reached the point where his doctors have used the "cured" word. It took awhile but my heart is back to normal size and function. Also lucky was the fact that we'd implemented these changes before we got sick. Hubby was unable to work for 18 months. I would have been physically unable to work for at least a year. Hubby had disability insurance that matched his paycheck and since we didn't have car payments and a house that required my paycheck to maintain, we didn't have to worry about losing our home. We didn't have any credit card bills to worry about. At a time when I had plenty of things to worry about, at least money wasn't one of those things.

This blog is going to be a way for me to document this journey to financial freedom. I plan to explore ways to cut the excess from our grocery budget (and maybe to make a budget while we're at it!), to provide four kids with all the necessities and luxuries that they deserve, to make our home a beautiful and happy place and to show that you can live the Good Life without spending a lot of money.

The Good Life

There was a time, lots of years ago, when I first left my job to stay home with my son, that money was pretty tight. We’d been used to two salaries and it was a bit of an adjustment to live on one. I was a lot younger back than. (That “baby” is off at college now!) I didn’t mind living on boxed mac ‘n cheese or hamburger helper. I didn’t mind that our entire household was made up of mis-matched garage sale finds or hand-me-downs. I was young and skinny and looked good in jeans and cheap t-shirts.

Fast forward fifteen years. I’m 43 now. I have four kids: Jack is 18 and off at college; George is 13 and has lots of expensive hobbies; Kat is 10 and already wanting to keep up with the latest styles; and then there is 6 year old Lily, growing like a weed and needing new clothes every time I turn around. I’m tired of living in a mis-matched home. I’m not 28 anymore. Throwing on a t-shirt doesn’t get me out the door. I’ve learned how to cook and boxed, preservative-laden foods aren’t going to cut it anymore.

I shouldn’t have to give up the healthy lifestyle I want just to save money. Help me explore ways that I can keep my family — and myself — happy and healthy while staying on a budget!