Summer, I love you.

Today is the last Friday of the school year for us and I am really excited for summer! Summer has always been my favorite season. Yes, I know, it’s hot. People always feel the need to tell me that.
“But it’s so hot.” Yes, it sure is. I’m a native Texan, this is my time. I love the heat, I love the pool, I love wearing flip flops, the lazy mornings, church camp, summer camp, fireflies, snow cones, running through the sprinkler, family vacations, grilling, keeping your pool pony tail for DAYS, reading tons of books, the beach, the lake….it’s just the best. I’ve always loved it.From my deep pit of teenage angst, I counted down the days until summer camp like a survivor on a desert island. Scratching a tally mark for each never ending day until I could finally be “rescued” and go back to where I “belonged” : Camp.  Mom, dad, sorry about being a dramatic and unreasonable teenager.

So, here are a few outdoor projects we’ve done just in time to be enjoyed this summer.

Bring on the Summer!


This swing used to hang out by my grandad’s pool. The tree we hung it from is a bit outside our dining room window and had a swing-worthy branch on it, for sure.

The swing is chippy, and a bit weathered but I liked the look so I gave it a sanding to smooth it out and sprayed it with water seal spray.


Brian did some research and found that the most humane way to hang something from a tree is actually by screwing your hooks into the branch. That way the tree can continue to grow around the screws. (Hanging chains over can dig into the branch) We screwed in the hooks, then used “s” hooks to hang our chain.


A “nature tea table where I can have a tea party with all my dolls” was requested by Ms. C. She and Brian drew up some plans, looked at some wood scraps and put this sweet little table and benches together in an afternoon. The benches are blocks of limestone, and the table is a stump with a board screwed into the top. C picked out a fabric scrap that we glued on and waterproofed. The animals and dolls have been talking about it ever since. It’s the best outdoor tea party any of us had ever been to. 😉


Over at the Ranch house, we re-mulched the bed and planted a few new native plants, like Mexican sage and rosemary, but also portulaca and sweet potato vine. This little chair has been broken for years, but we have had it stored away. We just knew we could think of something to use it for. I pulled out some screws, shimmied that pot in there and again, I waterproofed.


This old crock was another old treasure we’ve had for a while.

I just love that old fence. We are slowly replacing the fence around the house, but this fence stays. Since it’s elevated off the ground (it’s built on a rock wall), we’ll leave it for “looks” and sentimentality. There are pictures of us as kids, out by the pool and that fence is there. It looks much less “rustic”, but I just love how authentic it is and to me, it epitomizes the ranch house. “I’m hanging in there. I still work-kind of. I was built by hand, and built well.” Turns out even a well-built fence can’t remain functional for 60 years.

Anyone else favor summer? Do you like to be busy? Just hang out?

Whatever you do-remember, it’s hot. 😎

Thanks for reading!! -Steph

What I buy from Costco, and what’s for dinner this week

 No one at my house seems to know what day it is today. Brian and I thought it was Thursday, and Landon never knows what day it is. Carolynn of course, knew what day it was. Thankfully she enjoys correcting us, and got us all on track. 😜 It’s Wednesday!

I made a trip to Costco this week, so I’m keeping it thrifty (more than usual) this week on the grocery store. I both dread, and look forward to Costco trips. It’s kind of fun to go through Costco, until you get to the check-out and it’s AT LEAST $200. If you even toss two extra things in your cart, you probably just added $30 to your bill. I try to stay all business in that place. Get what you need. Get out. But first get pizza, and a frozen yogurt from the cafe….because I’m only human.

From Costco, I buy:

  • Yogurt
    • Kirkland brand plain Greek Yogurt. We use this to eat (add honey, fruit, oats..) for breakfast and snacks, but also as a sub for sour cream in sauces.
  • Butter
  • Cheese
    • I almost never buy shredded cheese. I buy a whole block of Colby and shred it, or slice it as needed.
    • I will sometimes buy their mozzarella logs also if we’re planning a pizza night.
  • Tortilla Chips
    • We really don’t eat/buy chips except tortilla chips (see my love affair with salsa mentioned below). Tortilla chips and salsa is a winner with pretty much every one so it’s also a good thing to keep around in case guests pop in. It’s $3.54 for a giant bag of chips you think you could never eat all those chips! But we manage to crush that challenge every time.
  • Dried Fruit, Nuts
    • We switch between dried blueberries, and cherries. These also go on sale in the bulk section at Sprouts, which will end up a better deal. But we like to keep these around all the time, so I keep them stocked. We put these in yogurt, or mix them with nuts  for snacks.IMG_7687.JPG
  • Laundry and Dishwasher soap
    • I’m not picky about it really. I usually use the Arm and Hammer detergent since it goes on sale frequently
  • Bread
    • A friend recommended Dave’s Killer Bread to me recently and it’s delicious. I keep it in the freezer to help it last.


 I’m actually planning on trying to make homemade sandwich bread today! I’ll take some pictures and share more on that next week!

  • Paper Products
    • Paper towels
    • Toilet paper
  • Trash Bags
    • Have you had this? You will find yourself asking the question, “What can I eat salsa on? Can we eat salsa on this?” It’s the BEST salsa on Earth and every stinkin’ time I go, I buy 3 jars. So you go buy it too so they never stop selling it. GO!
  • Chicken Broth
    • I usually stock up on this more in the winter for soups.
  • Salt, Pepper and GarlicIMG_7688.JPG
  • Toothpaste
  • Aspirin and allergy meds
  • Dog food
    • To be honest, I’m not in the know about dog food pricing. I just buy it at Costco because it’s a stupid big bag and I don’t have to buy it again for a long time.

Depending on need, and sale items, I occasionally will also buy eggs, coconut water, fish sticks (they have some really good ones!) veggies, La Croix or Ozarka sparkling water.

I do not purchase meat from Costco. I have not found it to be cheaper than Sprouts-where I’m getting chicken this week for $1.88/pound.

Ok! Here’s this week’s menu. We are planning to have dinner with friends one night, where I’m planning to bring some snacks and a dessert. Angel food cake is $1.99 this week, so I’ll take that and some fruit because YUM. It’s a winner every time.

Wednesday Leftovers!
Thursday Sesame Honey Chicken Wraps (I use butter lettuce leaves)

Rice, veggie

Friday Homemade pizza -pepperoni, margherita

Salad with tomatoes, carrots (.98) and cucumbers (3/$1)

Saturday Grilled Chicken ($1.88/lb)

Grilled Zucchini, grilled corn (6/$1!!)

Maybe some of my homemade bread?!

Sunday Dinner with friends

Bringing salsa, chips, roasted corn and avocado salad (I’ll throw all the corn on the grill Saturday and use the extra for this. Add avocadoes, salt, chili powder, purple onion, tomatoes-eat with chips, or a fork.)

Monday Spaghetti (pasta .98, sauce 2/$4)

I really like to make my own sauce, but will use a jar tonight. We will be coming home from visiting friends, so keeping it simple.

Tuesday Swedish Meatballs



I cannot believe this will be the last week of school! I am so excited for summer, but also kinda sad C will be in FIRST grade! All those well meaning people that say, “it goes by so fast. Enjoy every minute” were not lying. I feel like this year went by in a flash and I can just see my kid’s childhoods zooming by. OKAY nice old lady, I’m there. I believe you now, and time can just stand.still. But, since that’s not possible, I just really have to try to enjoy the moments and treasure their young-ness. I’ve never done that well. It’s impossible to treasure EVERY moment, but this summer my goal is to really just BE present with my kids. Hold me to that ok? Unless they ask me to play school. I don’t have to do that. They’re so bossy! 🙂

Happy cooking, and happy last week of school! Bring on the summer!

An Old Feed Sack and Some Fabric Scraps

Hey friends! Here’s a quick little step-by-step to start your Monday morning! Again, I brought out my trusty little sewing machine, actually changed out my thread color (A year ago I would have never attempted this without a you tube video!) and used these little  “Fat Quarters” to recover two pillows from the kid’s playroom.

After recovering my outdoor pillows (Read that post here), and several of my living room pillows in glorious, blue ticking:

You can buy that compass pillow cover here.

I was inspired to recover the upstairs pillows to match an old feed sack my mom found for me in a closet.
You can find the little quarters scraps anywhere you buy your fabric. I found mine for $1 each at Walmart. I bought two gray, and two striped. Although not my favorite colors, I wanted the colors I chose to complement the colors found on the sack.

I slipped that old sack onto a pillow I already had. If you want to recreate this look, but don’t have a stash of old feed, or flour sacks, you can find flour sack fabric on Etsy. I really love this one.: grain sack fabric: blue stripe vintage. But there’s lots to choose from, if you’re not as into blue as I am.

The quarters are about 18 X 24 so there’s only enough to cover one side of one pillow. SO I covered mine so that they were reversible. Striped on one side, and gray on the other.


Lay out your scrap, and measure using your pillow insert.


Trim the excess, or fold it over. Be careful with this step! You want to make sure you are sewing the folded portion into the inside of the pillow.


Next, line up your back piece. You may also want to use an iron to ensure they are both straight, and flat. I didn’t do this, but I would if I were to do this again. They would have turned out better if I had, I think.

I sewed the edges together and voila! Again, I am remaining humble about my sewing skills. There were a few mistakes, but they’re playroom pillows so….grace.

I picked up this adventure/bicycle pillow at Wal-Mart too for less than $5. The perfect compliment with it’s gray and aqua color and it says “adventure” so that of course, spoke to me and our life, here on the ranch.

$9 and a little sewing for some new pillows that complement that feed sack. Which was the inspiration behind it all. Anybody use those quarter scraps for anything else? Maybe to make cloth napkins??  I’ll let you know if I try it!

Thanks for reading! -Steph

The search for a sectional

We have been on the hunt for a sectional for a few years. And by we, I mean me. Brian’s on board, but it’s really my dream. I just love how cozy they are, and that corner seat is callin’ my name.
Our current living room would really be just right for a sectional so I check out Criag’s List and watch for sales. Of course I would love this sectional, from Pottery Barn:
Pottery Barn Comfort

It’s so comfy and beautiful and WASHABLE. It’s also THREE THOUSAND dollars. On sale. And like I always remind my kids, I have the money, I just would rather spend less.

Here’s the comparable IKEA Ektorp:

IKEA Ektorp


IKEA has really upped their style game, in my opinion, and although I swear their prices have increased, they remain affordable.

This “dilemma” (first world problem, for sure!) makes me think about my dad’s parents. They owned real furniture. Real wood tables, Sofas and chairs that would last forever and could be re-upholstered again and again. I love this idea. So that’s my plan for when I’m a grown-up. 😉

That philosophy is why so many of us have things from my grandma’s house in our homes. They are sturdy, quality pieces that still look great. Of course, it’s my favorite to use family things in my home. And a lot of that probably has a lot to do with how well said family things have held up over the years. They are timeless.

So basically I’m on a beer budget with champagne tastes, and ideas. Enter Craig’s List. I would like to purchase a stranger’s Pottery Barn sectional that just doesn’t fit right in their new house. You’re moving? You’re tired of it? I’ll take that off your hands, friend.

A few days ago I found someone in the north part of town selling an IKEA Ektorp sectional for $100. Oh you read that right. ONE hundred. I can buy a new cover from IKEA, and spend $200 on a new couch. Yes!!
I start to get excited….where’s it going to go? Can we see the TV from here? Reach the side table? Oh, I’m making plans. I set up a time to go to her house. Load up my kids, drive an hour and a half. I see the couch…..wah wah wah.
It is actually not an Ektorp, but an old, fuzzy plaid couch with an ill-fitting (although well photographed) Ektorp cover on it. I thank her for letting me see it, and let her know I am going to pass on it. Thanks but no thanks. “But wait, are you sure?” she asks, “I am taking it to goodwill tonight! My new couches are coming tomorrow. It’s gotta go.” Sorry lady, I don’t even want it for free. No offense, it’s just not what I’ve been waiting for. Congrats on your new couches.

Here’s my takeaway: don’t get excited about something you see on Craig’s List until you SEE it. With your own eyes. Sit on it. Touch it. Ask the right questions. If I had asked specifically, “Is the couch an IKEA Ektorp?” I would have saved us time, and gas money. Stay focused, Stephanie.

Oh well! Although it was lots of drive time, the kids were happy because we got to eat dinner at a restaurant. Which I’m pretty sure they think is worth any amount of trouble.

Where do y’all buy your furniture? Do you believe in being thrifty, or getting a quality piece that will last and last? Are you icked out at having someone else’s couch? Are YOU selling your couch? Is it a sectional? Just kidding….kind of.

Happy Friday everybody! Enjoy your weekends. Thanks for reading!!







What’s for dinner Wednesday!?

Some weeks I am inspired to choose more than enough meals for the week. I’ll be trying to decide which 7 meals I should plan for because 10 are “speaking to me” this week and they all look good/are in budget/have ingredients on sale. This week: blech. 😝 I can’t come up with any ideas. Nothing looks good. Chicken again?!

But it’s called LIFE, and that’s just how it goes sometimes. This week was a struggle to make my list, but these are all tried and true recipes we can always count on to be yummy.  Let me know if you make any of these, I’de love to know how it goes. Happy planning, list making, shopping and cooking!


Wednesday Hamburger Stroganoff


This is a go-to at our house for sure. I sub plain, Greek yogurt with a squirt of lemon juice for the sour cream.

Thursday Ritz Cheddar Chicken


I omit the sauce on this-it really doesn’t need it, and my kids just want ketchup anyway.

Friday Salmon



I make salmon a couple different ways, but will probably just broil this with a little orange juice, soy sauce and brown sugar mixture on top.

Saturday Verde Chicken Enchiladas

Avocado, beans, salsa, and chips

Sunday BBQ ribs in the crockpot

Potatoes-sweet potato fries, baked potatoes, roasted reds (whichever’s on sale)


Monday Chicken, bacon asparagus pasta

I make this with whatever pasta I have, usually penne. I also will sometimes sub frozen peas, green beans, brussel sprouts (cut up) for the asparagus.

I have also revisited this recipe just to make that alfredo sauce for other pastas.

Tuesday Breakfast for dinner: eggs, bacon, homemade biscuits

Time for a clock update

Get it? TIME? Just checking, it IS Monday. 😉

This was a quick, little project that was also free since I had all the materials handy. Here’s the clock I’ve had since we lived in Houston…..(mental math happening)…6 plus years ago.

After we moved it, to Austin, it’s hands were broken, and I took it to a clock repair shop. The owner kindly informed me that the clock was “cheap” and not worth fixing since I could just go buy a new one. I thanked him for his advice, and asked him to please fix it anyway because I didn’t want a new one, I liked it.

Well, a couple of moves later, the clock was broken again, and I wasn’t loving the look that much anymore. I’ve been hanging onto it though. And like with so many things, paint can work wonders. (Check out something else I transformed with paint here)

I gave it a thin, dry brushing of Rust-Oleum Chalked Paint *, which I’ve used for several things and I really like, and recommend.


I hung the clock on the wall above our TV:



This area is still a work in progress. We plan to mount the TV, eventually, so I wanted to leave some space below for that. That board, was a recent project, and has all our shared addresses on it.  The roman numerals are our anniversary date.

As you can see, the clock is decorative only. But I’m happy with it, and as always, energized when I can change things up for little, or no money. Before you get rid of something, see if there’s a way you can paint it, or reuse it! Let me know if you do, I’de love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading -Steph

*If you use my link to purchase this paint from Amazon, I will get a small percentage of your sale. This is at no extra cost to you.

What’s for dinner Wednesday

Hey friends! Here’s the Smith dinner line up for us this week. I am having a girls weekend this weekend (woot woot!) so Brian and the kids are on their own, and I’m off the hook for two dinners this week. BUT, in case you are interested, I’ll link two of my favorite recipes for you to check out for your menu.

As mentioned last week, I only list “veggie” on some of my meals. I will just choose whatever looks good and is affordable when shopping.

Wednesday Chopped salad with grilled chicken, fruit
(chicken breasts are $1.79/lb this week!)
Thursday Zucchini “noodle” lasagna with spinach
(zucchini is 2 lbs/$1! I’ll use leftover sausage from last week’s pizza night, and leftover ground beef from taco night)
Friday Mom’s Weekend!
Saturday Mom’s Weekend!
Sunday Pork Loin Roast*($1.99/lb), rice, veggie
*I have never made that recipe, but may try it this week. The ingredients are all things I have on hand, and the flavor will go well with the Lo mein I’m making later in the week.
Monday Meatloaf muffins, veggies
Tuesday Pork Lo Mein, egg rolls
(I’ll use leftover pork loin from Sunday)

Here’s two recipes that are staples over here and are a hit with the whole family:

This sesame chicken is SO yummy. We have this with rice and carrots, or broccoli. Carrots are always super affordable.
Sesame Chicken

This is a one-skillet meal. Love those. Since chicken and zucchini are on great promotions this week, this is a great choice for this menu.
Tex Mex Chicken Zucchini Skillet

 You can go check out all my saved dinner recipes on Pinterest, here: Dinner Board

As always, more than happy to share any recipes you’re interested in! Happy cooking!

Thanks for reading -Steph

My tips for shopping at Sprouts on a budget and my menu for the week

Hi friends! I have had enough people ask me about my meal planning, grocery budget and dinner menu that I thought sharing my weekly meal plan would be something to share here, on the blog. To get this started, I wanted to share how, and where I shop and some “rules” I follow. Next week I’ll share my menu, but this week I’ve also included some of my tips.

I do all my grocery shopping on Wednesdays. And only Wednesday. I would rather sit on a cactus than grocery shop twice in one week. I do Wednesdays because Sprouts has double circular day. This means that all the previous week’s specials, as well as the following week’s specials are all applicable that day. You get double the savings! I look through the circulars on Tuesday, and make my meal plan based on the promotions they are running.

First, I should mention that we have 1/3 of a beef in our freezer, so I will make beef meals about once, or more a week and those meals aren’t included in that weekly amount since we have that meat here already. I also make 1-2 trips to Costco a month, ringing up about $150-$200 a trip depending on our needs that month. So I am spending more than $400/month on groceries. But, I do feed my kids breakfast, lunch and dinner from home, or packed in a lunchbox, every day.

I really, really love Sprouts for lots of reasons I won’t bore you with. Here’s where you can find your circular, or if you have a Sprouts near you: But, hopefully you will find these tips are applicable at your grocery.

  • Make a list.
    • Y’all know this. You’ve heard it. Sorry to be lame, but it’s true. You have to plan your meals, and you have to make a list.
    • I make my list the night before. I sit down with:
      • My computer or phone for looking at the circulars (you may get them in the mail)
      • Two pieces of paper. One for grocery list, one for my menu.
      • My cookbooks nearby, or Pinterest available to refer to my recipes.
      • I also have a whiteboard on my fridge to keep track of staples that we need. Peanut butter, milk, ketchup…my whole family is trained to write down anything they realize we are out of.
  • Keep to the list.
    • you knew that was coming.
    • I do make exceptions to that rule if something is on a seriously good sale/on the clearance cart. If it’s something that’s on sale, but you don’t need it this week, the tag often has a “On Sale Until ___” date on it. You can assess whether or not it’s something you want to make an exception for.
  • Try to keep your “aisle items” to a minimum, but don’t make a special trip to find them elsewhere.
    • Aisle items ARE more expensive at Sprouts. A can of beans is $ .59 at HEB, and $1 at Sprouts. I have tried the approach of, “I’ll get meat, fruits and veggies at Sprouts, and “aisle items” at HEB where they are cheaper.” This didn’t work the way I hoped. I spent too much at HEB after I got all my good, necessary food at Sprouts. There will be something else you forgot you “needed”, there will be a coupon you can’t pass up…you get the idea. Just spend the extra on aisle items while at Sprouts, and just don’t get too many. I have gritted my teeth and spend $7 on peanut butter because we were totally out and I couldn’t get to Costco. It can seem painful but not worth that extra trip.
  • Make your menu reflect what’s on sale.
    • If pork is on sale, you’re having pork chops. If chicken’s on sale, you’re having chicken.
    • As soon as you see something on sale you can use, find a recipe, add the ingredients you need to your grocery list right then and write down what you’re making on your menu.
  • Don’t be too picky about fruits and vegetables.
    • We eat lots of fruit. Know why my kids think Kiwis are like candy? Because kiwis don’t go on sale. So Smiths get Kiwi every blue moon when I’m feeling very generous:) We regularly eat bananas and apples plus another one or two on sale/in season fruit.
    • On my list, I usually just write, “veggies x ___”. I choose from the veggies that look good and are a good price that week. I don’t stress too much about choosing them from the circular while I make my list.
  • Don’t make “kid food”
    • I have a whole soap box about this. You don’t need to hear it. Just make one meal for your family.
    • (If you are pregnant, have a baby, a toddler, or PMS, this doesn’t apply to you. You are in your season. You are pretty and worthy. Your kids, AND your husband like, and appreciate, cereal and sandwiches for dinner.)
Here’s what we’re eating this week:
Wednesday: Chicken Curry and Eggplant Punjab with Naan bread
Thursday: Beef with Broccoli, egg rolls (from Costco), and rice
Friday/Cinco de Mayo: soft beef tacos, corn salad(corn, avocado, purple onion, lime juice, salt, pepper, chili powder), chips and salsa
Saturday: Steaks, homemade bread, zucchini
Sunday: Homemade pizzas (pepperoni for kids, supreme for grown-ups), salad
Monday: Falafel with yogurt sauce, cucumbers and carrots with hummus
Tuesday: Sloppy Joes, sweet potato fries
I have included the links to two of these recipes, but happy to share with you any others you want.
Ok, Sorry to be so long-winded! Next week I’ll keep it short and sweet, and share my menu.
Thanks for reading! XO, Steph

Outdoor Furniture Refresh!

If you know me, you know one of my love languages is throw pillows (also Twizzlers, in case you want to send me a gift 😉). Even as a young person, I have loved changing up my decor. I would re-arrange my room, re-organize my drawers, change up my posters -not you Ben Affleck from Armageddon. You’re not going anywhere. Wasn’t I cool? Yeesh.

Anyway, knowing me also means you know I really enjoy a good deal, and pillows cost about $25 a piece.  Ouch.

In the last two weeks, I have re-covered, as in used my sewing machine to re-cover,  5 outdoor pillows and 6 throw pillows. I have re bobbin-ed the bobbin thingy at least three times, re-threaded the needle many, many times (there are 5 steps. Do not forget a step. The whole thing will go funky and you will cry) and even changed my thread color completely more than once. I have gained lots of confidence with my sewing abilities and although I still have a very elementary understanding, and obvious lack of terminology, I love how I have been able to change the look of pretty much all my throw pillows and outdoor furniture for about $45. That includes ticking, and printed duck. If you know about fabric at all, those are two types that are never, or rarely on sale and are about 9.99 per yard.

Here’s the sewing machine I use. It’s a Singer Simple *, and as the name suggests, it actually is pretty simple, and intuitive to use. It is a pretty popular model as well, as I have found many you tube videos and blog posts out there about maintenance etc. So the information is available, should you need it.

When we bought this outdoor furniture it came with a good amount of pillows, which I liked, but they were….ugly. They just were. Anyway, obviously I got over it since I am just now recovering them.

Here’s the “before”:

sofa before

Also, I have had to flip over all the cushions since the frickin’ frackin’ squirrels pulled holes in them for their dadgum nests.

To recover the couch cushion, I got an indoor/outdoor tablecloth from Hobby Lobby for $15, with a 40% off coupon. It is a bright, light navy. It’s comfy enough to sit on, but durable enough to be on the porch.

To cover the couch cushion, which is one large cushion, I stretched the tablecloth over the cushion and then “gift-wrap” style folded the corners in.

close up wrap


I used safety pins to attach it to the corners, as well as at the back to prevent it slipping. I didn’t feel like sewing it was necessary, but you do you. Overachiever. 😏

I bought a yard of a blue ikat printed duck, and a half a yard of the yellow striped duck. That was exactly enough to cover two 18 x 18 inch pillows (in ikat) and one rectangular pillow.


The lemon pillow was from last year, at Target. If I were buying an outdoor pillow this year, it would be this precious bicycle pillow. But, I’m all about using what you have, and I still love this lemon pillow and I think it looks just right.

If we share the same taste, and you’re looking for outdoor pillows and/or cushions, Target really has so many cute ones. Lots of yellows and blues, florals AND they are 25% off this week.

Shopping there is what motivated me to finally re-cover my cushions. That, and the great weather we were having.

As always, I love all the questions and comments, so keep them coming! I have a post coming up Friday, so come back then to check it out!


Thank you for reading! XO, Steph


*Were you to purchase the sewing machine using my provided link to Amazon, I would receive a portion of your sale. This is at no extra cost to you.