Easy Fish Packets

Okay since it’s practically Spring now(on the calendar, not really outside yet) I am offering up a lighter recipe for those of you(and me) that are shedding for Summer! This is one of our favorite recipes as you can customize it with what you have in your fridge and pantry and it’s quick with minimal cleanup! To me that’s the trifecta of a great recipe. I usually serve this recipe with a side of rice. I used catfish for this recipe as it’s pretty easy to get the good stuff here in Mississippi! You can use any white fish I just want to stress how important it is to buy products grown in the USA or fresh caught off of our own coasts!
Easy Fish Packets
  • Fresh fish fillets(2)
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • 1T Greek seasoning
  • 2 cups Spinach
  • 2 teaspoons Olive oil
  • One sweet onion cut in rings
  • Aluminum foil
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Cut a 12 in piece of foil and lay one cup of spinach on the bottom
  3. Lay your fish fillet on top of the spinach
  4. Season your fish with half of the Greek seasoning
  5. Sprinkle one teaspoon of oil on top of fish and spinach
  6. Add the tomatoes and the onions
  7. Close up the packet and put on top of a cookie sheet with the folded side of the packet facing up to allow some steam to escape.
  8. Prep your other packet and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Your fish should be cooked through and it should be flaky.
  9. Serve on a plate and enjoy!

Junk in the Trunk

This is day five of our March No Spending Challenge where we are loosely following the 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero from the Living Well Spending Less blog. I wanted to share some updates with you along the way! Other than Chick-Fil-A taunting me every time I pass it(twice per day) I am holding up pretty well! I have not craved eating out one bit and I am enjoying preparing meals for dinner each night. During this time I am recording what I cook and what we do so I can look back at all of the things we did without spending excess money after the challenge is over! I want to see what we liked and what we did not so we can possibly implement those things into our lives in a more permanent way. 

As we go along I wanted to share some of the things I am experiencing and learning during this time of purging if you will. The very first thing that struck me was the amount of retail emails I receive daily! How did I not notice all of these before? Yesterday alone I unsubscribed from 22 different mailing lists and I have done 11 more this morning! Now granted I knew I got these emails and usually I would just scan the subjects and delete most of them but if one caught my eye I most certainly opened it to check out the fabulous deal/product/promotion that a particular company is hocking. Of course these emails are designed to have the receiver open them because if they didn’t work then mailing lists would not exist. So in the celebration of purging I am getting rid of all of the junk in my trunk by unsubscribing to all of these emails that flood my inbox daily. All they are doing is screaming “Hey, Look At Me” which I do not need. If I need something/want to buy something in the future I can just research the deals like I do anyway(as those emails are not always the best deal you can find) and I can free up my inbox from all of the clutter. Truthfully, I am really enjoying giving these emails the boot! This is an easy way to stop feeling like you must always be purchasing something. If I have to physically look up the items I want/need then it means that I am invested in that item rather than falling victim to advertising. So this week I am taking back my inbox and it feels good! 

I plan on writing more posts about frugal living with a new series I am going to call Affordably Awesome! I want to share some of my tips on how to live comfortably on a budget, which contrary to popular belief can be done and actually can be quite fun! Mike has some insight as well as sometimes he can be even thriftier than me! I am no Suze Orman by any means but I am very often approached by friends and family asking for tips on how to save a lot of money while still having really nice things. Life is not about nice things at all but who doesn’t enjoy living comfortably? We are learning more each day navigating marriage and our finances but there are certain things we’ve come to discover that have made both easier!

Fat Tuesday

Here in Mississippi, with us being so close to Louisiana, Mardi Gras is a huge thing! Granted I have never been, and I am not sure if I will ever go, but Mike has been and said it was unlike anything he had ever witnessed. Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday the very next day! So basically if I understand the tradition correctly then Fat Tuesday is a day to get it all out of your system before the very holy time of Lent. Now since I have never been to Mardi Gras I cannot elaborate on it at all but what I can elaborate on is FOOD. Since moving to Mississippi I have really developed a love for Cajun food and the goodness that it is. I seriously cannot get enough! I am still working up to shucking a crawfish(I doubt I ever will) but I love the taste of them! Here are my favorite Cajun dishes to have regularly

This pot was actually made by a guy on my Relay for Life team for the fundraiser we had last week! I asked for the recipe but it is a family recipe so I respected the secrecy! It was delicious.
This is a shrimp and andouille gumbo that I made and although I was told that ‘real’ gumbo does not have corn, it was really good. The corn came from the frozen gumbo vegetables that I used to make the recipe a lot easier and quicker. As for me, I will probably still use the frozen veggie mix. Ain’t nobody got time to prep a complicated recipe on a weeknight! 
I am putting this one in here for Mike. He loves boiled crawfish and cannot wait until the season begins every year! The crawfish are boiled very similarly to the low country boils we have in SC. They are usually served with corn on the cob and red potatoes. Like I said I will not shuck them but I will eat them! They taste like mini shrimp to me.
Crawfish Nachos
Although these are not Cajun they contain crawfish and they are literally one of the tastiest foods on the planet. If I had to be executed I would request Crawfish Nachos from Huck’s Place in Columbus, Mississippi to have on my dying day! They are THAT good! They make their own potato chips and damn it doesn’t get any better! If I ever move from this area this will be one of the things I’ll miss most!
My friend Meghan and her mom Carla, who are from Opelousas, Louisiana, were kind enough to give me some of their favorite Cajun recipes and so far my favorite of those is Crawfish Elegant. It was amazingly creamy and delicious and I cannot wait to try more of the recipes they gave me! 
Laissez les bons temps rouler

March No Spending Challenge

Tomorrow is the last day of the month! March is upon us and I wanted to share with you that the Arnold’s are going to be spending our time knee deep in a savings challenge that we are bringing upon ourselves. Last year was a crazy expensive year with our wedding, honeymoon to the Dominican Republic, Disney trip and Vegas trip. Do I regret one dime from any of it? NO! But I do wish we had the chance to save more in 2013. However, we are rectifying that in 2014 and have already made strides to put away a lot in the last two months, but in March I want to really reach and see what we can do.

In all, for a young married couple, we are pretty frugal when it comes to purchases and our spending but the eating out has gotten out of control. It’s so easy after a long day to just go out or pick something up on the way home but as much as I love to cook I have no excuse not to whip up something easy even when I get home after work. I also love using the crock-pot so that would be an easy set it and forget it, no excuse way to cook. Last month I set an eating out budget and we more than doubled it. That’s when I first knew something had to give. Around that same time while chatting with a friend she had informed me that she and her husband had done the 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero Challenge which I had never heard of before. She revealed that they had saved quite a bit and her husband even lost 10 lbs just from not eating out! Now I am not expecting to lose 10 lbs but it is true for me that when I eat at home I tend to eat much healthier.

As for Mike and I, we will be participating in the challenge with a little modifications such as having a small budget set aside for a movie night(tickets only) as Divergent comes out in theaters and I am not willing to wait to see it. I know this goes against the plan but you cannot deprive yourself of everything or you will binge later and I plan to spend the money out of my personal fun money so that nothing leaves out joint account. So here is an outline of what we are considering as Essential and Non-Essential for us. Those things may mean different things to you but for us they mean exactly how ‘bare-bones’ can we live for the month. Also, by doing that we will appreciate all of the blessings we have and learn how to fully love what we already possess.

Would you ever take on a no spending/saving challenge? The hardest thing for me will be when I see a good deal and have to pass it up but I know the reward will be far greater if I just say NO! Also this will force us to get out there and see what our community has to offer at no cost. We can head out to the wildlife refuge for a hike or take a long walk around campus. There are always things we can find that cost nothing at all we just have to be open minded about it!

DIY Desk Nameplate with Silhouette Cameo

As you can probably guess I have a day job. No I do not get to sit around all day dreaming about what to blog about unfortunately! I do have however a nice little office abode at work that I enjoy very much. Over the last 3.5 years I have tried to make my office a little more comfortable by hanging art, adding a lamp and now with a new nameplate I made. Now no this is not one of those fancy wood engraved nameplates your boss gives you when you achieve something fantastic. This is a nameplate that I whipped up with stuff I already had at home. I started with a 4×6 in white canvas and turned it into a maroon and white happy for my desk. I will say I have received the most compliments and comments about it than anything else in my office! I love getting compliments on things when people have no idea that I made it myself. That in itself is a compliment to me. You can totally style these up more but for my job in academia I wanted mine to be pretty vanilla!
What you’ll need:
  • Canvas(I bought mine for $2.50 for a pk of two at Michael’s on sale)
  • Craft paint and brush
  • Vinyl cutter or stencil
How to make
  1. Use your vinyl cutter to cut your name or whatever you’d like. Remove the holes from the letters.
  2. Transfer your vinyl name with transfer paper and add it to the canvas. Make sure you spend a while scraping the vinyl down when you transfer it to the canvas.
  3. paint over the entire canvas(I used maroon/white as they are the school colors here)
  4. Let dry at least one hour and paint a second coat.
  5. Let dry overnight
  6. Peel off sticker and viola you have your name on a colorful canvas! 
Are you feeling crafty yet?

Valentine’s Day Table Decor

Who says you need to head out on the town to have a fabulous meal with your love? Not me! As you know by now if you have been out on Valentine’s night that EVERYONE goes out to dinner for Vday. It’s like a thing. Restaurants are packed and servers are overworked and it can be too much! I am a fan of the stay in and cook something special evening and that’s what we have planned for tomorrow night! If you are hesitant about staying in as you fear that the ambiance of a restaurant is important then I am here to save the day with some inspiration pictures of table decor. The great thing about staying in is that you can tailor everything to your taste and style! Enjoy Vday with your love or even your friends and family! It’s a great day to show love to everyone!

Have fun making your table all about you and your personal style!

Favorite Winter Recipes

I find myself home again for another ‘snow day’ although I see none of the white stuff and I do not think I will this year! I am enjoying the two days off to break up a long winter week here in February! Here in Mississippi temperatures start to increase after February so I am getting antsy for Spring. If it’s going to be cold though I love to have a hot meal for dinner to fill me up and keep me warm! Here are some of my personal favorite winter weather recipes that are super easy and hearty! Click on a picture below to be linked to the recipe! Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do!

Grand Canyon

I am finally getting around to sharing the last bit of our Christmas vacay and I saved the best for last. We actually went to the Grand Canyon on our first day in the desert. We were picked up at the Mirage at 6:20 in the AM and we returned at 9:00 PM. It was an extremely long day but it was life changing. I now know what people mean when they say that there is no way they can explain something. Explaining the Grand Canyon is like explaining the ocean. It is a truly majestic place and I am so ready to go back and stay at the El Tovar Lodge in the park. We went to Grand Canyon National Park which is about 225 miles from the Las Vegas Strip. After mulling over renting a car or not we decided that we should go on a tour so they could drive for us so we chose Grand Adventures Tours and I would highly recommend them. Instead of us being on a huge bus with a hundred people there were only 9 of us to go on this tour so we got to ask the guide a lot more questions and we got to experience things that other tours could not only because we had such few people. Here are some pictures and details of this amazing experience. 

Grand Canyon Train
Grand Canyon Village and Bright Angel Lodge

Our first view of the canyon…Breathtaking
Light snow on the canyon walls
The Colorado River
Me cheesing it up in the El Tovar Lodge

Grand Canyon Hopi House

Incredible Lodge view

I loved this tree on the South Rim trail

I was sitting on a ledge 5000 ft above the river and I felt oddly safe. In that moment I felt so alive. 

Husband being silly
Gorgeous sunset view, the colors changed automatically

After the sunset. What an amazing day!