Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Try It! Tuesday- Housecleaning Schedule

Now I have to admit, I am the last person to want to schedule cleaning. I mean come on, that's right up there with scheduling root canals. I also have to admit that I have a weakness... ok many weaknesses, but you are only going to find out about one right now. I do not like to clean, and I hold off to the last minute to do so.

Let me give you some examples...
If people are coming over, then the guest bathroom gets a nice cleaning. Otherwise, I just sit and stare at it while giving a bath to my kids thinking to myself, "Gosh, I really should clean this place..its getting kind of gross", but never
really doing anything major until the next guest is going to come over.... people pleaser? I think so.

Another example is that I love to cook, but I get so frustrated that after I cook and we eat, there are a full double sink's worth of dishes, pots and pans waiting for me to dig into...don't tell anyone, but sometimes...I wait till the next morning to do them. Pathetic.

Ok, now that most of you are thinking that I am either really gross or my house is a mess, let me tell you what I am going to do about it. Schedule. Yup, I'm going to come up with a schedule that I can handle and hopefully stay on track on a weekly basis rather than getting totally out of control before guests come. (Guests do come quite often, so the house isn't that bad, but its the wrong way to go about cleaning my home.)

I decided to come up with a weekly schedule, and then have one extra thing that I will add in that should be done every so often. These things I will pick from a list that I have made:

Kitchen- Wipe down counters, do dishes, and sweep up floors

Dining Room- Wipe down table, and sweep up and spot clean underneath
Bedrooms- Make beds, pick up clothes and clutter
Toy Room- Pick up toys w/ help of little ones

Do Laundry- Fold and put away

Mondays:Bathrooms- Wipe down sink areas and clean toilets, wipe down mirrors

Tuesdays: Vacuum all areas- Kitchen, Living Room, Bedrooms, Toy Room and Bathrooms

Wednesdays: Bedrooms- Organize clothing and closets, clean sheets

Thursdays: Mop- Kitchen, Dining Room, all tile common areas and Bathrooms

Fridays: Extra Day- Choose from List of things- ie- clean windows, clean showers and baths, floor boards, dusting, clean out fridge, organize a closet, clean comforters, get rid of toys.

Saturday: Vacuum all areas again, and do general pick up of all rooms

Sunday: Rest- unless there is a project

List of Things to Be Done on Fridays:

Organize a Room

Toys- Clean out

Clutter Clean

Wipe down floor boards
Dust all table tops and pictures

Wipe down all blinds

Clean windows- Inside

Clean windows- Outside

Organize a closet

Clean showers and bathtubs

Organize Pantry

Organize Laundry Room
Organize Office Area

Set- Up Bills and Organize

Pull out fridge and stove- clean behind and under

Pull out washer and dryer- clean behind

So there you have my first draft of how I would like to accomplish having my house clean on a regular basis. I am sure this is going to need some tweaking. I would LOVE to hear how you all do it! Thanks!

Next, I will post about my cross over from mostly chemical cleaning to very Green-Cleaning....

Here are few links that I found that also give some sort of scheduling list:

Weekly, Monthly, Bi-Yearly and Yearly Schedule

Site that walks you through making your own schedule

How to Make a Green Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit

The Family Homestead- This woman knows what she's doing!

Here is a great poem that someone gave to me a little while ago...I am thinking about printing it out and framing it to remind me:

Thank God for dirty dishes
they have a tale to tell.
While others may go hungry, we're eating very well.
With home, health, & happiness,
I shouldn't want to fuss:
By the stack of evidence,
God's been very good to us.

Join me tomorrow as I talk about the Family Meal Table for How Was It Wednesdays!

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday- Week of June 29 w/ Recipes

This week is going to be a fridge & pantry week meaning we are going to use whatever we have in our pantry to come up with meals for the week. I'm a little disappointed with our share from the co-op this week because we were supposed to get all this good stuff, and ended up getting two bags of celery instead of pole beans, cucumbers and green beans. There will be no extra spending at the grocery store due to budget constraints... Here is the menu plan for the week!

Breakfasts: Eggs & Toast, Oatmeal, Waffles- Frozen from big batch, Pancakes
Lunch: Leftovers, PB & J, Chicken Salad, Quesadillas
Snacks: Smoothies, Raisins, Carrots, Fruits


Monday: Chicken Fajitas w/ fresh cilantro, green peppers & onions

Tuesday: Shepherd's Pie w/ Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes- recipe below

Wednesday: Chicken Chili w/ salad

Thursday: Turkey Burgers w/ Salad and Yellow Rice

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Chicken Noodle Soup

Sunday: Pizza w/ Pineapple and Green Pepper- Vegetarian

And that's all she wrote...or at least all I'm going to write today! I'm off to do my Family Meal Table study while the girls are still sleeping!!

Wait, I forgot to tell you about the cauliflower mashed potatoes!!

All you do is add 1 head of cauliflower to your boiling potatoes about half way through the boiling process. Then, drain the water with potatoes and cauliflower and make your mashers just as you would if you only had potatoes!! They are more healthy, and no one will even know the difference!!


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Saturday, June 27, 2009

I have made a discovery!!

It's not very often that I discover something that just make me go crazy ( in a good way)! Well, this happened today... yup, as plain as day, I discovered something... well, 3 different things actually.

First, I want to give you the recipe that started my discovery:

Simple Kale Soup
8 cups Chicken Stock, or 4 c. Chicken Stock/4 c. Water- depending on how frugal you are!

1 bunch Kale, washed, trimmed stems and cut into small pieces

1 lb cooked Ham cut into cubes

3 medium potatoes, cut into chunks

4 cloves of garlic-minced

Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Boil stock.
2. Add Kale, Ham, Potatoes and Garlic.
3. Simmer on Medium-Low for about an hour to let flavors blend.

That's it! That was the recipe that started it all.

I'll tell you how it went down.

Last night, I was trying to think of how I could feed my 1 year old this soup because I thought it was really healthy for her.... hence first discovery.... the IMMERSION BLENDER!!! Granted, some of you may not have one, but a regular blender would work just as well, but with a little more cleanup. I have been buying jarred soups for babies, and I can now blend my soups, meat and all and she can eat them right along with us!!! YayWe ate the soup in the photo above, and she ate the goop in the photo below!!

Ok, now onto my discovery #2!! Bread sticks w/ Cheese!

I was making my daughter a grilled provolone cheese sandwich, and thought to myself....hmm, that sounds really good with the Kale Soup we had last night!! But instead of making a whole sandwich for myself, and stuffing my face, I just cut all the crusts off of her sandwich ( which she doesn't eat anyway) and used them as dipping sticks for my soup!! The cheese was already in them! Doesn't get any better than that!! And I was just using up what my daughter would have wasted!!

Ok, 3rd discovery, which is kind of an add on to number 2 is..... ADD PROVOLONE CHEESE TO THE SOUP RECIPE!!! If you are going to make this recipe, I would recommend making it as if it were a French Onion Soup. ( I haven't tried this yet, but don't fret, the next time I get Kale, this is the first thing I'm cookin!

After making the soup as described above, I would put individual servings into ramekins,add crusty made croutons w/ garlic flavor to the top of the soup, and then top the entire ramekin with a big slice of provolone cheese. I would place this in the oven under the broiler, or whatever you have the oven on, just enough to melt the cheese... pure heaven.

Well, there you have it! Who knew Kale soup would be so inspirational!!


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Friday, June 26, 2009

Frugal Fridays: Budget- The Bottom Line

Well, I am adding another "catchy phrase" day on my blog...Frugal Fridays... which I am sure is already taken by someone out there, but I am determined to get some things off my chest about this topic. I like to say that my husband and I have been stuck in the spin cycle in our finances since we got married. It all started when we bought the house (one we couldn't afford but qualified for) and bought the beloved washer and dryer...that was when we got sucked into the laundry pile of people who lose control of their financial situation.

I am NOT making any excuses... firstly because I can't think of any.... we were young and ignorant in money maki
ng decisions and we are where we are now because of early spur of the moment decisions, no budgeting and the little rectangles of plastic which I now know are not play money....

About 5 months ago, I read the book by Dave Ramsey called The Total Money Makeover. You can read that blog entry here. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to finally accept responsibility, swallow a little pride, and get in touch with reality over their financial situation

The book emphasizes the importance of a total budget, meaning EVERY penny is accounted for by the end of the month. Well this was fine and dandy for people who receive steady paychecks, buy for my family situation, it just about drove me insane. The reason I was going crazy i
s because our income is ever changing and I can't account for money that I don't know is going to be there or not. So I decided to create a Bottom Line Budget.

You can click here
and use it as a guideline for your own, or just use the same one. The Bottom Line Budget lets me know all of the bills I have for the entire month. I decided to put it in the order that they are due, not the order of the biggest bill.

The second portion of the BLB is the money that we have left over after all the bil
ls and expenses are paid. I can then separate it in to categories to decide where I would like it to go. This will help me to get a grasp for that extra money and where it is going. With the budget example that the book gave, I was just waiting until the end of the month to see what I had spent all our money on, and not deciding ahead of time where the money will go.

This way, I can allot cash to all of the non-bill expenses we have - ie- food, gas, etc. and then put all the extra money into the specific categories of my choice.
Not sure if this will help anyone else but our family, but I thought it might be helpful for people with similar income situations. Enjoy!!

Note: We are committed to getting ourselves out of the huge debt hole we dug ourselves in. This budget is one of the ways we slowly coming out of debt.


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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Try It! Tuesday- The Family Meal Table

Well, I am kind of making this a Try It Tuesday post, in conjunction with my Thursday Thoughts.... because I want to bring up something that is becoming very important to me and I am about to go on a journey...do you want to come?

God is taking me on a journey that all started with the Above Rubies study called:

The Family Meal Table ( the link will take you to their site where you can purchase this study)

First, since this is a sharing post, I figured I would tell you a little about where I came from, where I am now, and where I am going....

I linked my first ever post on here above, and would love for you to read that and see where I started on my journey to be a stay at home mom. When I began this blog, I truly felt like God had finally solidified my decision to stay at home and not feel pressure to work... EVEN if we were struggling financially. That was back in April...it is now June and God has consistently provided.

A lot of my transformation was taking a more pro-active role in every day happenings in the home, primarily family meals. I decided to start cooking more, not just baking cookies (which I still love), but to put my family on the right track health wise, starting with home cooking. I stopped purchasing anything boxed or packaged, and really began to develop a sense of ownership and responsibility towards not just my children's health, but mine and my husbands too.

That said, I began to make home cooked meals almost every night. Well, now that I have that down pretty good, God had to go and present this study to me... the Family Meal Table and Hospitality. I'll give you a little overview of how my family meal table goes down almost every night:

Around 4:00, I am half way through making dinner, and the kids are getting really antsy and wanting to have another snack, so I usually give in, put on a movie for them and finish making dinner. Around 5:00, dinner is ready and the kids are full from their snack ( Flop #1) while we wait for Dad to arrive home.

Once Dad arrives home, I tell everyone to sit down. During that 3 minutes time span, the 1 year old nearly loses it because we are making her get strapped into something, while also wanting to eat. The 2 year old doesn't stop talking to Dad because she hasn't seen him all day. I realize I told everyone to sit down and....duh, the table isn't set( Flop #2). So I quickly try to set the table, and get the food off the stove top while all of this chaos is happening. ( I hope I'm not scaring you :)

I finally sit down and the table and hurry to say, "Go ahead Brian and pray so we can eat." (Flop # 3- rushing prayer time) Brian hurriedly prays and we begin eating...

Within 3 minutes, the three year old is finished and wanting to be excused. Daddy is nowhere near relaxed because the meal seemed like we were rushing to be the first car in line for a Nascar race. I haven't even eaten yet, because I am playing who wants to eat more, me or baby...and for some reason, she always wins...

We end up practically jumping out of our seats to end the chaotic dinner and go do something that will de-stress us...like go to the pool (meanwhile, I have left all of the dishes, pots and pans in the sink to go do something fun)

So there is a typical night at our house...want to join? Probably not... this is where I feel I have a problem. If I want my house to not only be inviting and welcoming to my own family, but other families or friends, then I have to change our Family Meal Table.

I realize that because our children are so young, there's going to be some aspect of chaos, but I feel that we are not leaving room for God to come and join us at the table because we can't wait to finish the meal.

I learned in the study that Jesus always made a meal for people when he was about to tell them something important, or reveal something about Himself to them. Jesus thought mealtime was important! So must I! Over the next two months, I will be completing this study and hope you will join me, if not just reading my blog, but perhaps ordering the study yourself, or just sharing your thoughts, suggestions (b/c boy could I use them) or comments!

So the first step to making my meal time less chaotic and more God welcoming?

1. Set the Table ahead of Time and call your family in to sit down when the food is already on the table... seem easy? We'll see about that :)

Bless you All!!

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Menu Plan Monday - Week of June 22

For more meals and recipes, visit Orgjunkie.com!

This week we are receiving our third order from the Organic Bulk Buying Group. I am going to arrange our meals around that:
Here is a list of what we will be receiving:
Green Kale
Romaine Lettuce
FL Pole Beans
Yellow Beans
Acorn Squash
Sweet Potatoes
Hot Yellow Banana Peppers
Red Onions
Golden Kiwi

Breakfasts: Eggs & Toast, Waffles(frozen from Father's Day) Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftovers, Chicken Salad, Quesedillas, Fruit and Veggies
Snacks: Fruits, Veggies and Peanut Butter, Cashews, Raisins, Smoothies

Monday: Turkey Goulash w/ Tortillas (RECIPE BELOW)

Tuesday: Vegetable Masala w/ Brown Rice ( VEGETARIAN)

Wednesday: Spicy Turkey Burgers w/ Fruity Acorn Squash

Thursday: Simple Kale Soup

Friday: Chicken Fajitas w/ Fresh Cilantro and whole grain Tortillas, and cucumber salad

Saturday: Shepard's Pie

Chicken Breast w/ Balsamic Vinegar and Garlic w/ yellow beans and yellow rice

Well, I am a day late, but it gives me a chance to post the recipe I threw together last night and everyone loved it!!

Turkey Goulash w/ Tortillas

1 lb Ground Turkey
1 small onion- chopped
1 clove garlic- chopped
2 t. Garlic Salt
1 t. Chili Powder- or to taste
2 t. Cumin
1/2 t. paprika
3/4 can tomato sauce- you could probably add the whole thing, but I wasn't sure how strong it would taste
1 can Kidney Beans
3/4 c. macaroni pasta
3 T. Heavy Cream- doesn't totally need it, but I had it on hand
Tortilla chips, or Actual soft tortilla

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Boil macaroni following box directions. Meanwhile, saute' onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add ground turkey and brown. Add spices to turkey mixture, add tomato sauce, beans and macaroni.Add cream and stir. Lightly grease an 8x12 casserole dish and pour mixture into dish. I had leftover tortilla chip crumbs, so I scattered them on top, but it wasn't enough to cover, so I sliced up a tortilla and layered it over the casserole. I sprayed it lightly with oil and sprinkled with a little salt. You don't need extra salt if you use already made tortilla chips. Bake for about 25 minutes or until heated through and tortilla has become crisp...enjoy!!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How Was It? Wednesday

This weekend, while my husband was working, I decided to take on making a dress for the girls. I used this pattern which you can purchase from the designer on Etsy.
I had leftover fabric that my sister used to wrap our Christmas presents from a few years ago...thanks Meghan!!
Here is how it turned out. It actually fits both girls, but I am going to make one a little larger for Lily.
In total, this dress probably took me about an hour to do.... mind you it was my first article of clothing I have ever attempted, so it is definitely doable! The pattern that I purchased is very clear and easy to understand. Over all, I'd say the experience went well!

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday- Week of June 15, 2009 w/ Recipes

This morning, I made a smoothie ( or a smooshie as Lily likes to call it!) for a mid morning snack. I'm telling you....you can put ANYTHING in smoothies! MY husband was getting nervous about all the vegetables that were still in my fridge from the CSA produce from this week. So I put two heads of bok choy leaves in, and Lily didn't even think twice about asking for seconds! This is a Kefir smoothie mind you! Here is what I used- I eyeballed the amounts, but I can try to round out measurements for you!:

1c. ice cubes
1 1/2 c. strawberries
1 banana
2 heads bok choy leaves only
1 T. wheat germ- raw
3/4 c. Kefir
1 T. maple syrup
Place in blender and blend on high for about 1 min.

There you go! Who knew all those crazy ingredients could be so good.

Here's my Menu for the Week:

Oatmeal, Eggs & Toast, Whole-Wheat Pancakes w/ Kefir

Leftovers, Quesadillas & Curried Chicken Salad

Smoothies, Fruit, Veggies & Peanut Butter, Cashews and Raisins


Monday: Ham and Leek Shepard's Pie- DELICIOUS!!

Tuesday: Spaghetti w/ Ground Turkey and Costco Garlic Bread

Wednesday: Vegetable Masala w/ brown rice- VEGETARIAN

Thursday: Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken w/ Spaghetti Squash and Rice Pilaf- Recipe below

Friday: Pizza w/ pineapple, green pepper and onion and homemade dough- VEGETARIAN

Saturday: Shrimp/Tomato/Lemon Kebabs on the BBQ w/Corn and Cous Cous

Sunday: FATHER'S DAY- Daddy's Choice! Not sure what that is yet :)

I love the Near East brand of Rice Pilaf. I did a little researching and found a recipe that I am going to try this week with a few changes. The recipe called for chicken bouillion cubes which I am not a fan of, so I am just going to use chicken stock in place of the water and bouillion:

1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 vermicelli, broken into pieces or orzo
2 Tbl. butter, Margarine, or Olive Oil
2 1/4 c. chicken stock
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbl. dried parsley

Melt butter (if using) in large skillet with well fitting lid. Brown
pasta in butter or oil. Add rice and stir to coat. Add stock and spices. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 50
minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How was It? Wednesday

Last night, I made a Indian Dahl with Spinach and it was great! We would have like it with a little more kick and flavor, so next time I will add about 3/4 teaspoon of everything instead of what they called for which was only a 1/4 t. I served it with brown rice and Naan. I ended up putting a little too much water in it, but over-all it was a great Vegetarian dish... I forgot to take a picture, so this is one from the all recipes website. I would definitely recommend that you follow the link and try this if you are looking for great meal at a low cost. Don't be afraid of the Garam Masala either. I would definitely recommend putting this in your spice collection. It adds tremendous flavor without having to add all the separate spices. I'm going to post about this on Friday.

Also, I made a
BEET chocolate cake....yup, a BEET chocolate cake. I had some leftover beets from the veggie co-op, so I boiled them, pureed them, and added them to my cake. That too was amazing. It tasted very earthy, but I like that flavor with chocolate. There was not a lot of chocolate in the cake either (so little, in fact, that I was convinced that the cake would come out tan instead of dark brown...I was wrong) Would definitely recommend that you make this cake if you want a healthier alternative to pure chocolate. I also used Sucanat instead of brown sugar and the recipe came out fine. To make it a little more moist, I added about 3/4 T. of maple sugar too.
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Try It! Tuesday... Soap Nuts for Laundry Cleaner!

Well, I am hoping to win this in a giveaway over at Passionate Homemaking (which by the way, is one of my favorite blogs!!) , and if I do I will definitely try it then. I think I can purchase these at our natural food store. Otherwise I will be getting a sample online if I don't win.
Thought I would tell you a little more about them:

They are the only true Natural Laundry Detergent...meaning, NOTHING has been done to them. You can pop them in your laundry right off the tree!! Amazing...skeptical? Maybe a little bit, but the more I hear about them, the more great comments they get that the silly things work! Who's in to try them?

I guess you can also make soap nut liquid detergent yourself as well. This is changing them from their total natural state, but still better than almost anything else out there.

Head on over the Passionate Homemaking and try to win a free sample yourself!! Let's try them together!

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Menu Plan Monday -June 8th

Last week I had the opportunity to work with a ton of vegetables from the bulk buying group that I joined. Everything was delicious! I still have a few things to use up, but for the most part we ate everything! Yay! I think our favorite was the asparagus that I steamed up and ate totally plain! Amazing!
Here is this weeks menu-plan- I looked online and can already tell what veggies we will be receiving this week!

We will be getting spinach, in which I will be trying these Green Smoothies...I am so excited about them! Feel free to try them and let me know how they are too!

Breakfasts: Eggs, Toast, Oatmeal, Muesli, Pancakes

Lunch: Leftovers, Salad, Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Monday: Grilled Hamburgers, Sweet Potatoes and Salad

Tuesday: Indian
Dahl w/ Spinach- Vegetarian meal of the week! Served with Naan & Rice

Wednesday: Spicy Turkey Burgers w/ Balsamic Vinegar & Ginger Bok Choy

Thursday: French Leek and Ham Shepard's Pie

Cabbage Rolls (slow cooker meal)

Saturday: Picadillo w/ Naan and Spaghetti Squash

Chicken Stir Fry w/ Bok Choy & leftover veggie

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How Was It? Wednesday

Last night I made Baked Kale Chips, and they were pretty good. I over salted them, and that was the only part about it that wasn't so good. I also would have liked to have them overall be a little more crispy, and I think I could have accomplished that by lowering the temp, and keeping them in a little longer. I used garlic salt as well.

Here is the recipe:
Baked Kale Chips -
Note: These are not like potato chips, they are still veggies :)

1 bunch of Kale

1 T Oil

1 t. Garlic Salt

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Wash and Dry Kale in Salad Spinner. Remove stems and cut leaves into small pieces. Place on baking sheet with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil and garlic salt. Put in oven. Bake for about 4 minutes and move them around or turn them over. Bake for approx another 2-4 minutes or until you have reached the desired crispiness. Don't over bake, they burn fast! Tip: I thought this would be great to use some sort of infused oil like rosemary or thyme, or garlic.
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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Menu Plan Monday...on Tuesday

This is really getting pathetic...I can't seem to make it on Monday:) We were away in North Carolina for the weekend and arrived back late last night. This week I am going to focus on using all of the amazing veggies we received from the bulk buying produce group. What we have had so far has been so delicious. The asparagus, which I am not even a big fan of, were so sweet...we didn't even have to put any seasonings on them!

Tuesday: Italian Dressing Marinated Grilled Chicken, Baked Kale Chips, Salad, Rice

Wednesday: SpicyTurkey Burgers, Sweet Potatoes, Salad

Thursday: Shepard's Pie- using carrots, peppers, celery and onions from Veggies

Friday: Stuffed Peppers and Bok Choy

Saturday: Organic Hot Dogs (no sulfites and not cured), Grilled Eggplant, Cabbage

Sunday: Lemon- Dijon Chicken w/ Fresh Parsley, Red Potatoes and any leftover veggies

For breakfast we will do eggs & toast, pancakes, muesli, oatmeal and granola

For lunches, we will do leftovers and chicken curry salad sandwiches

I am going to post some of the recipes I decide to use for the veggies too. I am going to try for the first time those Baked Kale Chips, so I will let you know how it turned out on Wednesday! I will also post my recipe for my Shepard's Pie which I think is pretty tasty :) Thanks!

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