Tag Archives: challenge


It’s October 1st and we are freezing!

Wait. What? It’s a beautiful, sunshiny, warm-ish (for October in the Pacific Northwest) day! But alas, my household is freezing. Our spending, that is.

Ruth over at Living Well Spending Less has put out the challenge, and I am up for it! The challenge: 31 Days of Living Well and Spending ZERO! Yes, ZERO! I’m a little nervous, but my nearly non-existent budget for the last…well, as long as I can remember…has prepared me for this day and this challenge.

My long-time blog readers and followers may recall me going on assorted different spending freezes, clean out the fridge/freezer/pantry challenges, and just plain being broke over the years, but this will be the first time I take on the challenge of actually committing to spending NO MONEY (aside from necessities and bills, of course.)

$10 Menu and Shopping List (Yes, I used coupons. No, I don't always spend so little at the store.)

$10 Menu and Shopping List (Yes, I used coupons. No, I don’t always spend so little at the store.)

All of this means that I am going to be brewing my stock-piled coffee stash (my beloved Starbucks Tribute will find its way into my coffee cup this month), will not be drinking wine (this isn’t a necessity, and I did NOT stock up before taking this challenge, because, well, that kind of defeats the purpose, right?) but may pull some long-forgotten vodka from the back of my freezer as I dig around in hopes of locating an also long-forgotten yummy treat to enjoy, and our menus will be fun and maybe a bit quirky as we use what is floating around our pantry, fridge, and freezers. This also means that my lunch-time visits to Starbucks are on hold for the month, as well as my more-frequent-than-I-care-to-admit trips through the McDonald’s drive thru for lunch (good-bye cheeseburger and small fries. I don’t think I’ll actually miss you, and I will be happy to keep my $2.62 per visit all to myself!)

What would you have the most difficulty giving up for a month, or even indefinitely? For me, it’s coffee (I know, shocking, right!? :)). And chocolate. My chocolate stash will surely run out this month…good thing I have plenty of chocolate chips. Yes, I know they are meant for baking into yummy treats, but I see no harm in popping a handful of that semi-sweet chocolatey goodness in my mouth while I give myself a pep talk convincing myself I do NOT need to go buy more Godiva chocolate (at the mall, where of course I will want to stop in at all my other favorite stores as well…). Don’t worry, Godiva, I WILL be back again. I won’t leave you forever, I love you too much and you make my stress melt away. xo

Now that you know what I *won’t* be buying, let’s talk about what I *will* spend money on. Bills. Gas (so I can get to and from work so I can get paid so I can pay those bills). Required school fees for my teens.

Perishable foods including produce (if needed. But we have an awesome neighbor who likes to share his garden goodies with us, so those may not be needed. Plus, I already spent the money on a Bountiful Baskets contribution that I get to pick up on Saturday, which should hold us over for a couple of weeks at least.), dairy, perhaps bread (I may decide we should just get back to making our own like we used to…) Our grocery budget is generally low anyway, in about the $200/month range, but we are cutting way back to just the basics and I anticipate spending around $40 this month.

Stick with me this month and see how much fun we can have without spending any money! It CAN be done, even with two teenagers roaming the house with me. They’re on board for the challenge too. I think. I hope. Well, if they’re not, I guess it’s time for them to get jobs. :)

I may not post all my random ramblings about this challenge here on my blog, so pop on over to my Instagram account and join the fun there. ThatCookGirl on Instagram


Filed under Life in General

Fruity Tastes

Cherimoya, Kumquats, Star Fruit

Last week I asked if you could name these fruits. I posed the question here at ThatCookGirl.com and again on facebook. Everyone seemed to know what the kumquats and star fruit were, but most seemed stumped by the 3rd fruit I had pictured. An odd looking greenish-brown fruit that my kiddos and I chose because we had never seen or heard of the cherimoya before.

It’s fun to try new foods, and I found it even more enjoyable to share it with my kiddos and talk about what we liked and didn’t like. We all agreed that the smooth texture and sweet flavor of the cherimoya was our favorite of the three. It would make a great addition to a smoothie, or alongside a cup of fresh yogurt. Both of the kiddos said they did not enjoy the kumquats. They were a little bitter, maybe they weren’t quite ripe? I was the only one who said “eh, I could take it or leave it” to the star fruit. It was good, but not something that made me think “where have you been all my life?” But again, I think it was not fully ripe, so I will have to try it again at some point. Maybe alongside the dragon fruit that was suggested by my sister. It is, afterall, the Year of the Dragon, which is MY year!
Speaking of MY year! It is still my Birthday Month, too! And I’m still trying new foods. Tonight: Veal!

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Filed under Cooking With Love, Food Trials

Simply Perfect

Saturday night. What’s a single girl to do, with her kids away for the weekend? Quite obviously, that girl should cook herself an amazing dinner, right? Afterall, if you don’t treat yourself well, who else will?

On Friday afternoon I ventured into town to check out Shawn’s Quality Meats & Smokehouse. I had heard good things about them from fellow good food lovers. I happily ordered a lamb chop from the friendly guys there, letting them know it was my first time having/cooking lamb. They were all-too-happy to give me some tips, including to not overcook it because that’s where you get the gamey flavor.

Simple Perfection

Saturday night rolled around and I had purchased all the ingredients to make a fancy dinner. I was going to make this fabulous-sounding pomegranate marinade and relish for the lamb, and risotto, and then I was going to fancy up the asparagus (generously given to me from Baby Sis’s produce co-op baskets). I stood there, staring at all the ingredients, and promptly decided that in this case, simple would be best. So I pared down my menu to include only the ingredients you see in the picture. That’s right. A lamb chop [seasoned lighly with cracked black pepper and a tiny bit of coarsely ground salt and cooked in my grill pan until medium-rare], asparagus [steamed], and a red potato [wedged, tossed with garlic-infused olive oil, and baked until brown]. Simply Perfect. And I think I enjoyed this simple preparation much more than I would have the more labor-intensive meal I originally planned. I got to really taste the flavor of the lamb, unmasked by fancy sauces. And I must say, I give it a 10!

Some foods are best enjoyed with the simplest preparation. I believe that a good quality cut of meat does not need to be fancied up, and I was pleased to find that to be true with this lamb chop from Shawn’s. I will surely return to their shop. Thanks, guys!



Filed under Cooking With Love, Food Trials

Birth-Month Challenge

I posted a few weeks ago about my Food Trials. At that time, in my own mind, I issued myself a challenge to post more frequently. I had plans for daily post themes. After a few days and no posts, I decided I would just make it weekly posts…and then a few more weeks passed by. So I am issuing my Birth-Month Challenge to the public because it’s harder to back out of a public challenge, right? (I hope! Because I really want to do this!)

It was a few years ago, during a particularly tough time in my life, that I decided I would celebrate my Birthday for the entire month. It’s February. It’s a short month. Humor me, people. I deserve to be spoiled, even if I am spoiling myself. So, what better month to issue myself a new challenge than this very special month. I won’t bore you with all my daily spoilings (or maybe I will. I guess I haven’t decided yet.), but I will share my challenge with you.

My challenge (which goes well with my Food Trials!): I will try one food I have never tried every week this month. I will cook one thing I have never tried to cook or never had success cooking at least twice this month.

Oooohhhh….double challenge! Can I do it? Of course I can! The question is: What do I cook?

First up: Lamb! I have never (that I can remember) had lamb. I find myself with the opportunity to have a weekend alone at home. So I will shop some local markets and get some lamb and make myself a great dinner. I will report back on my results.


Filed under Cooking With Love