Monday, January 30, 2012

20 Super Bowl Party Foods

Are you ready for some football? We ARE! Although our team isn't in the game this year...maybe next year will be our year!

Whether you are hosting a Super Bowl party or attending one? Here are 20 food ideas to make and take to the festivities:

Asian Chicken Wings

Roasted Garlic and Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

Apple & Blue Cheese Turkey Burgers

Grilled Pineapple and Teriyaki Turkey Burgers

Red Pepper & Feta Turkey Burgers

Grilled Sausages with Peppers and Onions Hobo Pack

Grilled Garlic Lemon Shrimp

Pulled Chicken BBQ Sandwiches

Turkey & Veggie Sloppy Joes

Black Bean, Tomato & Feta Salad

Chicken Tabbouleh Salad

Mediterranean Orzo Pilaf

Purple Cabbage and Broccoli Slaw

Broccoli Cheese Soup - Slow Cooker Recipe

Red & White Chicken Chili

Roasted Garlic, Sun-Dried Tomato & Olive Pizza

Chicken, Sweet Potato & Black Bean Quesadillas

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Muffins

Homemade Brownies with Homemade Whipped Cream

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

Thanks for reading. If you would like to receive FREE updates of FBS, there are four ways to do so:

Follow Me on Pinterest

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Organizing Spices | Kitchen Economics

The cabinet next to my stove is very narrow and while it was the best cabinet to keep spices, it was not the most functional. It stored all of my spices, but I couldn't see or find anything.

One day while browsing in Target something caught my eye that looked like the answer to my problem. A lazy susan. Brillant! So I bought two.

I alphabetized the spices to make them easier to locate. The taller bottles go on the lazy susan on the bottom shelf and I keep the shorter and medium sized bottles on the two-tiered lazy susan on the second shelf.

Every spice now has a place. I can see them clearly and I don't have to worry about finding a 12 year old bottle of cayenne.

The lazy susans worked for me, but The Learned Lady recently posted a helpful tip for organizing spices in the comments in my post on organizing a pantry:
"For me, when I organize my spices, I have them divided into three categories (I have 3 skinny baskets that hold my spices): special blends or spices - old bay, my Asian spice blend, my Cajun blend, taco seasoning, etc., go in one basket; then my most commonly used savory spices - garlic & onion powder, cayenne, paprika, thyme, basil, etc.; then my commonly used sweet spices go in the last basket - cinnamon, vanilla extract, allspice, cloves, etc. That way, depending on what I'm cooking, I can grab the basket I need (like if I'm baking) or just a couple of spices, but I know which basket to go to. This method has worked better for me than alphabetizing my spices."

How do you organize your spices? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading. If you would like to receive FREE updates of FBS, there are four ways to do so:

Follow Me on Pinterest

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

3 Simple Office Supplies for Smooth Tax Prep

We have our 2011 tax meeting this week with our accountant. We own an S corporation and have a few employees, so we have a CPA prepare our taxes every year. Honestly, he is worth his weight in gold; the tax rules make my head spin. I'm in close contact with their office through out the year, so there are never any surprises at tax time.

In all honesty, tax season goes fairly smoothly for us. I keep our paper work organized and QuickBooksupdated through out the year, so that when January rolls around, I only need to pull together the year end statements as they arrive in the mail.

Three simple office supplies keep our paperwork organized...and really it isn't rocket science. My desk might look like a mess (occasionally), but I do keep important financial paperwork organized.

3 Simple Office Supplies

1.A 4.5 inch binder

For our small business, I file large receipts, bills, and statements in a large 4.5 inch binder. I use tabs to separate our expense categories. Everything is filed immediately after I enter the transaction into our QuickBooks software, so I don't get behind.

Our accountant doesn't need to see this binder, but it contains all of the receipts that back up our business deductions, so I'll store it away in a closet with other past years. The size that you need would depend on the amount of receipts and statements that you receive through out the year. This size seems to hold everything for me for the year and my husband grabs them when they are on sale through out the year at office supply stores.

2. 13 pocket, Expandable Receipt File

Our smaller sized receipts get filed in a 13 pocket, expandable file. I file them by month and all receipts get filed as soon as the transaction is entered into QuickBooks. Again, my accountant does not need to see these receipts when preparing our taxes, but they do support our tax deductions, so I store them with the binders.

3. File Folder

I told you...not rocket science...

For our personal tax returns, I keep an ongoing "Taxes" file for any paper work that we need to support our tax deductions, such charity receipts, Goodwill donations receipts, real estate and school tax statements, year-end statements for mortgage interest, student loan interest, interest-bearing checking and savings accounts. As I receive the paper work through out the year, it is filed, so that at tax time everything is in one place. I do pass this folder along to my accountant for his review. All of that paperwork is then filed with our tax returns.

Do you have questions on how long to keep your financial paperwork? Read How Long Should I Keep My Financial Documents.

Are you prepared for tax season? How do you keep your financial paperwork organized for your taxes?

This post is linked to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.

Thanks for reading. If you would like to receive FREE updates of FBS, there are four ways to do so:

Follow Me on Pinterest

Disclosure - This post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Family Balance Sheet! You can read the site's full disclosure here.

This is a personal blog about my thoughts, experiences and ideas on personal finance and home mangagement. The contents of this site are for informational purposes only. I am not a financial professional, just a wife and mom who happens to enjoy topics on personal finance and home management. Please consult a professional if you feel you are in need of professional advice.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

SNOW! | Keeping It Real

I'm Keeping It Real every Saturday with a snapshot from my week.

We woke up to about 4 inches of snow this morning. My kids are anxious to get outside to play and wear the snow boots that they got for Christmas.

Did it snow this week where you live? Let us know in the comments.

Have a great weekend!

Thanks for reading. If you would like to receive FREE updates of FBS, there are four ways to do so:

Follow Me on Pinterest

Thursday, January 19, 2012

5 Steps to Succeeding Your Goals

As I planned my goals for 2012, I realized that I made only one goal for myself in 2011. Just one. But it was bold (at least for me): I was going to run a half-marathon.

In 2010, a very close friend called me excitedly to tell me all about her first half-marathon. If she can do it, I can do it, she told me.

My friend and I used to run together in college...ok, so our destination was Dairy Queen, but it was at least a 3 mile run round trip. My point is that in our youth (ahem, some 20 years prior) we were at the same fitness level. Maybe I could run a half-marathon. I decided that I would never know until I try.

Running wasn't new to me; I started running (to Dairy Queen) in college and ran my first 5k in my twenties. In my early 30's, I competed in several sprint triathlons. I found over the years that if I didn't have an event to work towards, I could easily talk myself out of exercise. Once I became pregnant with our first daughter in 2005, at the ripe old age of 35, I stopped running completely and took up walking. I continued to walk after she was born and kept going through my second pregnancy.

In January 2011, after a quick online search, I found a race in the fall that was close to home and I would have plenty of time to train. Registration wasn't until May 1, so I would have some time to get back into running and build up some mileage...and change my mind if I wanted.

On May 1, I registered. I was so giddy and excited about it; I was going to run my first half marathon.

In October 2011, I finished my first half-marathon. I was so pumped when I crossed the finish line, but I was also glad it was over. Any question in my mind that I might want to train for a full marathon was quickly nixed in the last mile; 13.1 miles is insane. But I immediately knew that this wasn't my last half. I had a blast the first 12.1 miles. I spent the time focusing on my breathing, listening to the awesome tunes my husband loaded onto my iPod, running next to total strangers, and just taking it all in. When you are in the back of the pack, you realize pretty quickly that you're not going to win the race. I was racing to beat my personal goal of a 10 minute mile pace. I did it; I ran the race in 2:08:47.

Over the course of 2011, I learned some lessons about myself and how I respond to goals. To be honest, I think this was the most determined and focused I have ever been about anything. I learned so much that I hope to apply these lessons to my personal and financial goals for 2012.

5 Steps to Succeeding Your Goals

1. Set a Specific Goal
Prior to 2011, my goals would have sounded like, "I want to get into shape." or "I want to start running again." Instead, I said, "I'm going to run a half-marathon." Could I be any more specific?

2. Be realistic.
I asked myself, "could I realistically run a half-marathon?" I felt that the answer was yes, if I gave myself enough time to train. Going from running a 5k (3.1 miles) to a half-marathon (13.1 miles) was not going to be easy, but I was giving myself the year to do so. If I found a race in the spring, I wouldn't have had enough time to train. A summer race was out of the question, because I do not run well in the heat, so the fall race was perfect.

3. Set a Reasonable Time Period
It had been more than five years since I ran regularly, so I needed to be realistic about the time it would take to increase my endurance and my mileage. Again, the fall race was a perfect fit for my goal.

4. Devise a Plan on Paper
To run (and finish) a half marathon, I needed to plan it out on paper. On blank calendar pages, I mapped out my training to build up my running mileage. I found a 10 week training plan from Runner's World magazineto help me train during the 10 weeks leading up to the race. However that plan recommended that I be at a certain fitness level at the start of those 10 weeks. I committed to running regularly in May when I registered for the race. I slowly built up to 6 miles. That was the benchmark that I needed to be at by August, the beginning of my 10 week training.

I give a lot of credit to finishing the race to that 10 week plan. It was just 4 runs a week for 10 weeks and the plan slowly increased my mileage and then tapered back right before the race. I went into the race feeling very confident that I could complete the 13.1 miles. I will definitely use it again for future training.

5. Enlist Support
I would not have finished the race without the support of my husband. This goal was important to me, so we sat down every week to review how much I needed to run and coordinate my training with my husband's schedule. My kids also cheered me on through out the training. Two weeks prior to the race, I had a 12 mile training run that I was a little nervous about. I woke up early on a Saturday morning, kissed my husband good-bye and told him that I would see him in a few hours. As I was finishing the run, I turned the corner to go down my street and to my house and I could see my girls yelling and cheering for me. They had a ribbon for a finish line that they wanted me to run through as I finished.

What's Next?
I had so much fun with this race that I've decided to run two half-marathons in 2012: one in the spring and one in the fall. But I also set many other goals for myself for 2012, both personally and financially. Now I need to take these principles that I learned from 2011 and apply them to my new goals. I guess what I really learned in 2011 was that I can push myself pretty hard. And I never realized that I had it in me.

How hard will you push yourself to achieve your goals in 2012? Do you have a plan? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading. If you would like to receive FREE updates of FBS, there are four ways to do so:
Follow Me on Pinterest

Disclosure - This post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Family Balance Sheet! You can read the site's full disclosure here.

This post is linked to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

7 Steps to an Organized Pantry | Kitchen Economics

I'm on a roll. I cleaned off my desk and reorganized our home office. Now I'm going through our kitchen cupboards--all in an attempt to make my life easier. How can a girl make a grocery list when her cupboards look like this mess?

I don't keep a large stockpile, because of my lack of storage space. We don't have a pantry closet, so I use several cupboards in my kitchen for food storage and some shelves in my garage for any overflow. Because of my lack of space, I am more of a ‘shop as I need’ kind of person and I use the sales flyers to plan a week’s menu.

When my cupboards are in disarray, I wind up with duplicates, out of date food, and wasted time. No matter how big or small your pantry is, these steps will help you organize it to be more functional and less frustrating.

7 Simple Steps to an Organized Pantry

1. Remove everything from the cupboards and clean the shelves with a damp cloth and dry.

2. Sort food items by category, such as baking items, breakfast, canned goods, coffee/tea, condiments, pasta/rice, snacks, etc.

3. Place your foods near the spot where they are used. Where do you use each category? All of my spices and herbs are in a cupboard next to my stove. All of the cooking oils and vinegars are above my stove. My coffee is stored right by the machine and all of my baking supplies are stored right above the counter where I use my mixer.

4. Face the food labels forward for easy viewing.

5. Alphabetize your herbs and spices.

6. Donate any food that you probably won’t eat and is not outdated to a food bank.

7. Discard any outdated food. I found this bottle of Ground Cayenne Pepper with a August 2000 date on it. That was 2 months before I got married and I was not much of a cook back then, so I'm not quite sure what I was doing with a bottle of Cayenne. I guess it has been some time since I weeded out my spices. I ended up throwing 7 bottles of out-dated spices away...OUCH!

A clean and organized pantry will make menu planning easier for me.

I think it is safe to say that I don't need to replace the cayenne.

What does your kitchen pantry or food storage area look like? Does it need a little attention? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading. If you would like to receive FREE updates of FBS, there are four ways to do so:

Follow Me on Pinterest

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

We're Saving for Disney and We Need Your Advice

I have never been to Walt Disney World and neither has my husband. To be honest, the two of us were never interested in a Walt Disney World vacation. But life has changed. We are raising two stinkerbelles who adore princesses and Mickey and Minnie.

So, we're Saving for Disney! And we're really, really excited about it!

It is one of our 2012 Financial Goals and I am starting to research it. From what we hear, a Disney vacation is not a vacation that you can just book and hope for the best when you get there. You have to plan it out, right down to the last detail. And since neither my husband or I have been there we have no idea what to plan, how much to save, where to stay, or when to take the trip.

We're utterly clueless. Our goal is to get there by Fall 2012 or Spring 2013. We're not telling the kids about it until we actually get on the plane, so I won't have to worry about hearing, "how many more days."

I just received our free Disney vacation planning DVD that I ordered off the Disney World website and I can't wait to watch it.

I'll be writing periodically about our planning and keeping you informed of all that I learn.

But now I need your help. Have you been to Walt Disney World? Where did you stay? Did you fly or drive? How long was your trip? What time of year did you go? What would you do differently? We would love to hear your advice in the comments.

Thanks for reading. If you would like to receive FREE updates of FBS, there are four ways to do so:

Follow Me on Pinterest

Saturday, January 14, 2012

PA Farm Show Fun | Keeping It Real

I'm Keeping It Real every Saturday with a few snapshots from my week.

Every January, Harrisburg, PA hosts the Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest indoor agricultural expo in the country, and we only live 10 minutes from the event. According to its website, there are 6000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits, 290 commercial exhibits, 400,000 visitors, and really amazing milkshakes.

It is quite the event that showcases "the good work being done on the farm, in the field, in the home and in the classroom, bridging the gap between "farm gate and dinner plate." (

We go every year, since it is so close to our home. The entrance is free, but it can cost up to $10 to park. Fortunately, this year we found a free parking spot that was within walking distance to the show.

I love walking through the dairy and cattle exhibit, although my kids thought it was pretty stinky.

What are they thinking about??

The butter sculpture is a big attraction.

We watched the high school girls' rodeo, although we arrived a little late and ended up at the very top.

Fun times in PA.

Do you live in PA? Are you or did you go to the PA Farm Show?

Thanks for reading. If you would like to receive FREE updates of FBS, there are four ways to do so:

Follow Me on Pinterest