2021 Goals · Emily (Me) · Fridge or Pantry · Good Cheap Eats · Homemaking · Pantry Challenge · Recipes · Repurposed Food (Leftovers)

Join Me For Pantry Challenge 2021

One of the ways I’m kicking off 2021 is to participate in the Pantry Challenge with Jessica at Good Cheap Eats. The dates are January 1-31! I’ve been doing this for at least a decade. I love her blog because I get her logic. She helps me see what I am doing right, wrong, and what I can do better. The Pantry Challenge is a fantastic season that my family looks forward to twice a year.

I would love to invite you to go to her blog, read about it, and subscribe. When you subscribe, Jessica will send you the tools you need to participate. It’s been different for us here in Italy. My pantry and fridges/freezers are full because of extra holiday purchases, and we have set some attainable goals for this Pantry Challenge!

  1. We will stick to our meal plan.
  2. We will only grocery shop every 2 weeks…
    • When we do, will will only buy dairy, produce, paper/personal items.
  3. If we don’t have it, we will make it! That happened today!
  4. We will repurpose food and use up our frozen foods.
  5. With the exception of Marque’s birthday, we will not eat out…

All of the things on my list will either save us time or money. In the states, there are coupons, and sales fliers, etc. here in Italy, not so much. We did find a store called AdHoc, which is similar to Costco. That has helped with meat costs, etc.

Here’s a pic of my pantry:

Beside my fridge (to the left of this pantry), I have a dry erase calendar where I place my meal plan, and a dry erase empty square where I write my grocery list. During the Pantry Challenge, we take stock of the meats and dry items we have… and we use our imaginations to make it all last at least a month, sometimes longer.

January 1st we had our traditional New Years Meal. Pork roast (because a proper ham is not common here), black eyed peas, greens/cabbage. Leftovers today, the 2nd, and tomorrow (the 3rd) we will have shrimp tacos.

Earlier, I said we needed something we didn’t have, so we made it. So here’s the story. We love the Pioneer Woman’s Shrimp Tacos, and they call for Mexican Tomato Sauce. Usually we use El Pato, but we ran out and they don’t sell it here. So we made it from this recipe – Mexican Tomato Sauce.

One of the things I have learned from Jessica @GoodCheapEats is that you can make just about everything from scratch… and it’s such a benefit. I’ll let you know how the shrimp tacos turn out.

We’re excited! Come play along… get organized, use what you have…and save money! AND let us know how you do!

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the Bible In a Year with Father Mike Schmitz. Pray for me. I’d really love to read the Bible in a year!

Love, hugs & Blessings,

Catholic · Catholic Faith · Counting Blessings · Davis Family · Italy · Lent · Uncategorized

Walk With Me… I'm In the Desert…


Dear Ones,

Can I ask you a question? And it’s a DOOZY… How’s your Lent going? With all this Coronavirus stuff and living in Italy, I can tell you – It’s not the best… OR IS IT?

When I started this post, my husband was laying asleep recovering from colon surgery (I’ll get to that). My child is knee-deep in virtual school – which he’s stressed about, but we’re both thankful we homeschooled before, so he’s ok. Sure, he misses his friends and being able to leave our Parco (neighborhood), but he’s doing ok.

February 25th, Marque went in for routine colon surgery to remove a bad area of his colon. We were told it was precancerous, but because there was a visiting surgeon with a colorectal specialty, we could do it sooner rather than later and she’d help out. The surgery was supposed to last three hours and lasted twelve. One of THE absolute longest days ever. People sat with me, comforted me, my child was there. And finally after 10pm, we headed home. 

On the first day of Lent, I walked into the hospital room to my husband writhing in pain. It was no one’s fault. The way they laid him during surgery was slanted, and arms pinned by his side, and his shoulders were so pain filled he could not even lift his arms. The visiting Priest (ours is in California having serious surgery near his family) brought us prayer, blessings and Jesus in the Eucharist. Lent in a Day, y’all. Ash Wednesday. We got our Ashes too. Sigh

My husband was in the hospital for 23 days. I’ll spare you the details on the ups and downs, but there were some very scary moments/days where the desert FEAR causes was very real. As the days turned into weeks, the coronavirus got serious. A friend of ours, a surgical tech, warned me and made sure I understood late one evening that I would need supplies to last a month and that when I took Marque home, I should not venture out so I wouldn’t catch it. I remember being irritated because no one thought it was very serious – and then all of a sudden, Italy was shut down.  

If you can imagine, here in Italy, we have to carry legal paperwork (in Italian) letting whomever might stop us know WHY we are leaving the house. We can leave for necessity, for medical needs, proven work requirements, and for returning home. Only grocery, pharmacy, a few hardware stores, and maybe a few other places are open. When the Italians decree came out that their people could no longer visit family in hospital, I asked permission to see my husband daily. AND I had to be home by curfew (6pm).

  • What if I told you that my husband did have cancer but it’s all gone? It never spread beyond his colon, not in his blood stream, not in his lymph. 
  • What if I told you that yesterday, on Gaudete Sunday, as frail as he has been whilst healing (he lost nearly 50 lbs and is weak for now), he taught our son to grill chicken and shrimp and we watched a family movie? 
  • What if I told you that this scary time has brought us closer, and helped us all appreciate one another more?

Before Marque had surgery a Priest told us we’d had our Lent laid out for us, he didn’t think we needed to give up anything else. And you know what, he was so right. The list of people I need to thank is long. I gave up sleep, my ego, and so much this Lent.  We have all given up Christ in the Eucharist, and aren’t even sure if there will be Easter Mass. In my 56 years, I’ve never seen or experienced ANYTHING like it. 

There were moments that I really didn’t even know if my husband would live. The fear in the desert is real. But I rejoice for this walk in the desert and the ability to be a light for others, and let others do for our little family.  

I look forward to the day when quarantine is over and I can be in front of Jesus again. Until them I will adore him at home, with my little family, in our sweet desert.

Praying for you all.
Air Hugs (social distance mandate).
Love and blessings,



Leftover LaLapalooza – Or Do you Repurpose Food?

Happy Sunday Morning All,
Happy Second Sunday in Lent!

I’m hopping on really quickly with some frugal pantry advice.

Do you Repurpose Food? Some people call it leftovers, but my people don’t like “leftovers”… so I call it repurposing food. HA! They even help invent meals. Aint’ NOBODY got time (or money) to be snobby around here!!

Last evening, as I was purposing to use what I have for dinner I thought – “I have GOT to blog about this.”

In our home, we have three people, so there are often leftovers. And when my husband travels, that number goes down to two. Y’all it would be so dang easy to blow the budget and order pizza or Chinese Food, but a) it’s Lent and we are supposed to sacrifice, and b) we are holding ourselves more accountable for what we spend. SOOOO the long and short of it is, I had to find something to cook.

Additionally I am on my 3rd day of Antibiotics, recovering from Strep and Sinus Infection – you know, because one thing is not enough. I always have to overachieve… Anywhooooo…

Last night, I made a goulash of sorts. A perfect food for cold, rainy winter evenings. Filling, but not too fattening. Semi-Healthy (if you laden with veggies).

Do you know what Goulash is?

When I say, goulash of sorts, let me be clear… my definition is loosely based on the above, however, I am not a Hungarian, nor do I play one on TV.  (hahaha) AND there is no Paprika in this stew-ish meal.  But, it is teenager approved. So it works in our house.

Here is what’s I did:

In the fridge, I found two oversized chicken breasts that my husband cooked. I cubed the chicken, then cut about 3/4 of one of the breasts into smaller cubes and set it aside (see repurpose #2 below).

For the Goulash I put about a tablespoon of olive oil into the bottom of a pan, chopped roughly half an onion up and used about a tablespoon of minced garlic and put those in the pan, let the onions cook a while and added the chicken, diced tomatoes, and cubed one yellow squash ad added it. Then I thought, Huh… what else can I add? I quite literally walked to the pantry, put some baked bbq beans in the mix, added cumin, garlic powder, and half a cup of water. I let it all simmer together, had the boy taste it, and he gave it the thumbs up (which frankly y’all is ALL that matters). He asked for it over bowtie pasta… And I served it layered, in bowls. Pasta, goulash and sprinkled some shredded cheese on it. You could add cilantro or whatever you want.

Here’s a picture of it.

Emily Davis’ Use What You Have Goulash

For the 2nd Repurpose of the chicken breasts, I made chicken salad for sandwiches (or crackers, or by it’s-self). Here’s what I did.

I took the smaller cubed chicken, added two grated boiled eggs, three small Vlasic dill pickles, and some garlic salt, Italian spices, basil and grated black pepper (all to taste), and lastly about three tablespoons of mayonnaise. Mixed it together and it’s ready to go for a day or so of lunches.

Here are a couple of pictures of it:

Those of you who have children of cooking age, you can really engage their imaginations by challenging them to come up with a meal.  It can’t be too funky, or no one will eat it. I was nervous about the bbq beans (which I had picked up a year ago, by mistake, thinking they were baked beans).

Lent is a good time to use what you have. With the extra we have, we are searching weekly adds, and purposing to fill a box with a certain $$ amount of groceries weekly. And… the money has to come from somewhere. Ya know?

A few years ago, I wrote this post: Frugal Pantry Tip – Repurposing Food. It’s a pretty decent post. We have always been the kind of people who, even if we had the money, we hated to toss out food. It’s just so wasteful. We both grew up in practical and poor-at-times households. And we make a practice to use what we have.

Plus there’s this. I mean – how true is this quote from Pope Francis.

I also found this. Y’all it is STUNNING to me how much food is wasted. We really need to do a better job of using what we have, not buying what we don’t need, AND thinking of others and what we could do for them if we don’t waste.

We need to teach our children about not wasting and about how blessed they are to have enough food to eat. Christopher started volunteering and being involved in our local Foodbank at the age of three. YES three. He has packed back-packs for children who don’t have. And though, he has never been hungry, he’s heard the stories.

It is not my intention to bring you down, but to educate you and remind you of what we can all do better. You aren’t alone if you waste, clearly… But here and now, decide to waste less. That’s all.

I hope you enjoyed this.
And while I have your attention, let me know how you repurpose food. AND let me know if you would be interested in linking up to a regular recipe post about how to repurpose leftovers? It might be fun to share our made up recipes. ❤

I hope to hear from you!

Love, hugs & Blessings,


Meatless Friday – Whatcha Cooking?

Happy First Friday of Lent… the Friday after Ash Wednesday!

Today’s first reading in my Magnificat, struck me:

Sirach 34:26; 35:3 — A man who fasts for his sins, but then goes and commits them again: Who will hear his prayer, and what has he gained by his mortification? To refrain from evil pleases the Lord, and to avoid injustice is an atonement.

Folks, God knows we are going to sin… and in many cases, we will repeat sins (I may have sworn more than once…. SIGH); however, we are to busy ourselves with what pleases the Lord.  For me, I’m busy with my family and getting my life back in order. You?

As you know, today is a day of Abstinence in the Catholic Church.  We give up meat on Fridays in Lent.  My family gives up meat year round (with the exception of if we are traveling or we forget…. and then, we do a Family Rosary or another penance – as is the rule).

But I didn’t come here to lecture you on how to do your Lent. I came to ask you what you’re serving for dinner. So what’s it going to be?

Tonight on my menu is Garlic Shrimp with Roasted Vegetables. Although, my vegetables will look more like onions, asparagus, yellow squash, portobello mushrooms, tomatoes and I think that’s about it. ❤  You see, we are also using what we have in an effort to clean out our Fridge/Freezer and Pantry.

Have I ever told you about the Pantry Challenge? I found Jessica’s Blog maybe like ten years ago. Back then, it wasn’t as “salesy”…. I have introduced a few friends to the blog this past couple years and they don’t like it as much as I did back when. But I like her style, I have some of her cookbooks, and I dig her logic. I’ve been doing the Pantry Challenge along with her since probably 2008-ish. It’s a great way to use what you have and make room for new…  AND to go through and toss expired or old foods.   If you go to this post – HERE – it is the first post of this year’s challenge. Informative!

Here are a couple links from my blog with great ideas for Meatless Meals:

Listen, mamas with young children or MANY children.  You do what you can to meet the Lenten meal requirements, within budget and time constraints. Maybe you order cheese pizza or veggie pizza OR make them as a family! Serve the children Mac-n-Cheese with apples on the side. It does NOT have to be fancy. Our youngest is 14… I can do the above and it’s not hard. You know? I just want to make sure you know that.
Have a great rest of your Friday!
Love and hugs,

Tuesday’s Tidbits — No Such Thing as A Liberal Catholic

Dear Readers,

After a somewhat long day, I finally am getting to editing and hopefully publishing my blog post.  We are expecting crazy weather here. I sure hope it’s good where you are.

There is no such thing as a Liberal Catholic. That’s just a Catholic not living their faith according to Cannon/God’s Law.~ Anonymous

There is no such thing as a Progressive or Liberal Catholic. You can not pick and choose which rules to follow. We are all sinners, but it’s the making an effort to live by God’s laws… that’s what makes us worthy. God knows we will never EVER do everything right. But he knows our heart. And if your heart says His Church is wrong…. please search your soul and seek counsel.

You are saying – what in the world brought all this on?  Well, it’s been coming for a while. I’m sick and tired of people justifying their actions by saying, “oh, well, I don’t agree with that part of the Catholic Church”. Maybe they are a same-sex couple and want to be married in the Church. While we do not hate homosexuals, we will not marry them because we believe it is wrong, as a faith body. Saying you dislike something is not hating a person. It’s the old, “love the sinner, hate the sin” adage. No, you can not pick and choose what to follow in our Faith. We are sinners and we are forgiven, but that is not an excuse to do anything you want. That doesn’t work. There are plenty of scriptures that talk about God holding those who know Him responsible for their actions in a way He doesn’t hold others responsible. Meaning – if you know God and you choose to sin against him, you’re far more wrong than a person who doesn’t know God’s laws and breaks one. See the difference?   

It also brings me back to this:

A few years ago, I was in Lane Bryant getting fitted for a bra and a big man was in the store. I was informed that if he wanted to try something on they had to let him. I left and never went back.  Surely a truly transgendered or gay man would not be interested in me, and I get that. But I’m not changing behind a curtain while a flurry of big, flamboyant me are in the changing rooms next to me. Something about that is wrong to me. PERIOD!

This past week, Target stated: 

In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways. Most relevant for the conversations currently underway, we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity. 

So for me, Target is now off my list. Besides the fact that if you have a male body parts, you are male… and if you have female body parts, you are female… plus, there is a chromosome thing. Sigh. But that’s the science of it. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

For me, while I do find the LGBT folks fairly troubling, and I don’t think Our Lord is happy with their choices, it is not the transgender or gender fluid people I am worried about. It’s the perverts (like the ones that have recently been arrested) that are going to prey on children because they now have the legal right to say, “I identify as a male or female” and be in the bathroom, locker room etc. of the opposite sex. It’s not safe. We are going to have to become vigilantes in order to keep our children safe. It’s crazy.

Just to prove my point… In Florida, A guy walks in, dressed like a man, with razor stubble and gets permission to go into the women’s bathroom. He’s not transgender. He’s just testing the waters.  VIDEO HERE.  

Further, has anyone thought about Girls Schools or Boys Schools or any other tradition of that sort…. do we have to let the opposite sex into everything? I sure hope not. That is troubling on so many levels.

But what is even more troubling are the Catholics, like THIS POST that call out Catholics for speaking out against Target and the Pedophiles because we have had Priests who were Pedophiles. That logic is idiotic at best. But then she calls for Charity (I hate when people are being rude and they call for others to be charitable…. please look the word up). The first thing she says is that anyone who lets their children go to the bathroom alone are idiots. Yep, super charitable.  

Anywhoooo….  I prefer Matt Walsh’s Post on it, “Regardless of the Law, I Can’t Allow A Man To Enter A Bathroom With My Wife Or Daughter”.  But that is not my point.

What I find sad are the people who try to pull out the “judge not” scriptures. Please note, in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 6, Jesus does tell the story about plucking out the speck in your brother’s eye, when you have a log in yours. But in the Study notes, it is explained in this way, “it is foolish to correct others for slight faults when we ourselves are best with greater ones. It is the size difference between the speck and a log that makes such practice look ridiculous”.   Fantastic information. Because God calls us to lovingly admonish our Brethren that are walking in Mortal Sin. It doesn’t mean we don’t love them… quite the opposite, it means we DO love them.  Love is not saying, “everything you do is perfect in God’s eyes”. Love is saying, “did you know that God has taught us this way, and you are doing the opposite. I’d love to talk to you about it.” Do you see the difference?

In Chapter 8, Jesus explains the Parable of the Sower:  

The Parable of the SowerWhen a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”The Purpose of the ParablesThen his disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets[b] of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak[c] in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’The Parable of the Sower Explained11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. 14 As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.

I liken the situation going on now to the Parable of the Sower. If people don’t understand and live the Word of God, and truly love and live our Faith, the seed of Faith inside them is not on fertile soil, but more in the thorns or on rocks. Everyone has free choice and the ability to change, but the free choice of others does not have to be accepted and liked by the body of the faithful. 

We are called to be light in a dark world. In this way, we must speak up. If we are not allowed to tell the truth because someone might find it offensive, that light won’t shine brightly. And this means we have to speak up for the rules of our faith, whether people like it or not.

Let me make this clear, I am not a proponent of HATE. Our Faith calls us to love, above all else. We must be loving and merciful. I will not call people names. I will not shout someone down. However, I am allowed to state my concerns about a situation. 

And I think if folks don’t like it or decide myself or anyone else is hateful because we are concerned…. then they should look inside themselves, and certainly they should look up the world Charity.

As Christians we are not called to conform to the world. We clearly must stand against any attacks on our Faith. 

As for me and my house, we serve the Lord!

Join me in praying for our Country. For people who have mental illness; people who live their lives in ways God did not plan. For our Priest and Clergy… and for our Church.

Blessings All,