Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday (March 28st)

Last week was a challenge.  My fiance was sick so on Friday I took the kids to McDonalds using some gift cards we had from Christmas.  So that threw us off a little.  I also tried to make mini burger cookies, and that didn't go over so well.  But it's a new week and we'll see what turns up!

Betty Crocker Mini Burger Cookies

Monday:  7-layer dip w/ tortillas
Tuesday:  Beef stew w/ salad
Wednesday:  Roast w/ veggies
Thursday:  Chicken fried onions
Friday:  Meatball Subs
Saturday:  Black bean soup w/ tortillas
Sunday:  Chili and crackers
Next Monday:  Pork chops w/ apples and rasins, roasted aparagus, Mac and cheese

Friday, March 25, 2011

Winter Dresses

My loving, doting fiance bought me a sewing machine for Christmas.  I had been begging for one since July, and it worked! Lol.  These dresses were the first thing I made.  The girls and I were all so excited, it only took me two days to get them done and they turned out fabulous for my first project.  

The Girl Creative
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Paying It Forward

While I was browsing link parties I found this beauty of an idea and I must say I am in love!  What a great idea and I cannot wait to do this.  (So many ideas are swirling in my head)

Comment Away!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Spring is here!!! Almost. *sighs*  Yesterday afternoon it was a partially beautiful, partially rainy and 68 degrees.  This morning my car was covered in ice and snow!  Scraping at 4:30 in the morning to get to work = not very happy.  So today I am daydreaming.  Spring is wonderful and fabulous and all, but I’m dreaming of summer.  So I’m going to walk you through my summer daydream.

First imagine it’s warm and sunny afternoon, the kids are outside playing in a little pool running around and you’re getting ready for dinner. (Here comes the good part.)  The menu is pizza fixed on the grill, there’s no need in heating up the house with the oven.  I’m thinking chicken or sausage fixed on the grill with fresh mozzarella and herbs and veggies from the garden.  But since our house is small and our yard is as well our veggies are coming from beautiful container pots. 

I’m really wanting a “Pizza Pot” this summer with tomatoes, green peppers, basil, and oregano.  When looking for information about it I came across this video    Lowes mailed out a news letter this week too that had some great ideas and beautiful pictures in it as well.  While I realize that themed container gardens are not a new concept, they are to me.  So imagine how thrilled I was when I got my new issue of BHG and it had another themed pot for a salad.  Brilliant!  BHG also has a great garden design app on their website that can help you plan just about anything.

Also new to me, as so much is, is the fact that some flowers are edible.  BHG actually suggests growing edible flowers like pansies or some chives along with the lettuce.  So when I read through my e-letter from Right at Home I was absolutely giddy when I saw this! 

Pansy Flower Cookies
The recipe for these gorgeous little nibblets can be found HERE.

So there it is, my summer evening dream.  Pizza made from container grown veggies, fresh salad, and pansy flower cookies.  Top that off with some sweet tea and I am floating on cloud nine.  What is your dream summer evening dinner?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Burgers Anyone?

Having worked in fast food FOREVER, I thought this Mini Burger Cookies Recipe from Betty Crocker was just the cutest thing I've ever seen.  So I attempted this today with my three and four year old.  It did not go so well.  There were a number of problems: the cookies were too big for the thin  mints, I got the wrong brand of icing, the girls are VERY impatient.  I really recommend Betty Crocker brand of squeeze icing if you're going to do this.  The points are very small on the bags and the icing flows very nicely.  The kind I got had a wide tip and was really chunky.  I will attempt then again on a Sunday afternoon while the kids are asleep with regular sized thin mints.  I'll post pictures then.  If anyone else attempts this let me know how it goes!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Menu Plan Monday (March 21st)

So last week's menu kinda got kaboshed.  I forgot I had a policy council meeting and then couldn't make it.  So we had dinner planned, and then canceled, and then planned again.  And the bbq pork we made turned out so good that we didn't put bbq on it and then turned it into ham and beans with the left overs. Sooo good!  So far here's our menu for next week.

Monday: Steak stir fry with rice (from last week)
Tuesday:  Mom & Me @ the school (dinner provided)
Wednesday:  Grilled cheese and soup
Thursday:  Lemon pepper chicken (my fiance's recipe, it's pretty amazing)
Friday:  Seafood from the freezer (unexciting but easy to fix)
Saturday:  Cashew Chicken
Sunday:  Meatball Subs

I am so coveting the new Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook they came out with before Christmas.  I obsess over BHG.  Here's hoping for a good week!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patty's Day

I just wanted to share these gorgeous cookies and very wonderful tutorial for St. Patricks Day!

Have a green one!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday (March 14th)

Menu planning is an amazing tool.  It saves time, money, and reduces waste.  These are all things everyone can use more of, but often times we don’t invest the little bit of time and effort it takes to get started. 

My fiancĂ© and I have been attempting to plan menus out ahead of time for the last few months and it just hasn’t worked.  To be honest we haven’t really tried that hard.  On Sundays we would clip coupons, do a partial inventory of what we had, and make a list of what we wanted to eat the next week off the top of our heads.  After making the list of what we needed I would go to the store, get the groceries, put them away, and there they would sit.  By Tuesday we had already forgotten what we wanted to eat on what day, or even what we had planned on doing with that chicken in the first place.  Usually the ‘menu’ we made was written on the back of the grocery list and would be tossed in the trash while putting everything away.

Presently several people have inspired me, actually.  First was Laura from ‘I’m an Organizing Junkie’.  She almost makes it funMenu Plan Monday, it becomes a group effort to share ideas, recipes, and saving tips.  Pretty amazing.  The best part is she doesn’t just throw it out there and leave you to it.  Nope, she gives advice and encouragement for every step of the way.  The trickiest part is there isn’t just one way to do it, so you have to search around and try new things until you find a method that makes fits into your routine that you can easily stick with.  

Obviously throwing away the menu on the grocery list didn’t work for us.  The other problem is that we have very, very busy schedules and things change quite a bit.  Or we just don’t have the right thing thawed in time and we end up having to scramble at the last minute to figure something, which usually means eating out.  Feeding a family of four several times a week gets very expensive and blows our budget out of the water.  So here we are.

Rather than making a menu off the top of your head, which makes it really difficult to come up with something interesting and new, Laura suggests using delicious to store recipes.  Another good site I found is  Both are easy to sign up and start building cookbooks.  If storing recipes isn’t for you then it’s just as easy to make your own recipe cards.  Many places actually format their recipes into standard card sizes so all you have to do is print them.  If not, it just takes a few minutes to write it down by hand.  Once you have your card, one nifty idea I ran across is laminating them and attaching magnets so that they can easily be attached to the stove or refrigerator for referencing while cooking.  Here is a great tutorial for Magnetic Recipe Cards from LDS Craft Project.

For us a bulletin board/white board does the trick with the help of some pretty magnets and pushpins.  Days of the week magnets help divide up the white board to write our menu down on, but the dry erase allows us to easily and quickly make changes as needed.  The bulletin board is great for posting the finished grocery list and new recipe cards or handouts.  I love the little recipe cards from the grocery store.

Anna, from Ask Anna, does hers by hand and offers a great tutorial describing her method.

I got the magnetic shopping list at Target, I can't find it online but there is a similar one here.  The days of the week magnets are from Bealls while visiting my best friend in Florida, the "E" was from Hobby Lobby during their Christmas clearance last year, and the squares are from Wal-Mart.  And that beautifully crazy cat you see right there… that’s Simon’s Cat.  He’s just the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and my best friend on a bad day.  

This will be the first time we've actually followed through with a menu if this works.  We did it up last night and I bought what few groceries we needed for the rest of the week today.  It was so nice to go to the grocery store with a plan and not wander from isle to isle trying to figure out what to fix then realizing I need something else half way across the store.  I think through out the week I'm going to have him look up a couple recipes online that he thinks will be good and I'll find a few, then BOOM! Next week's menu is done.  

So Now that I am done raving about the wonders of planning a menu here is mine for this week:
  • Monday-  Chicken fajitas, mexican rice, chips with queso dip, and monkey bread
  • Tuesday-  Parenting class (they provide dinner)
  • Wednesday-  Italian Sausage Penne Bake (recipe and samples handed out at Kroger)
  • Thursday- Bbq roast, coleslaw, baked beans, and garlic bread
  • Friday-  Chicken Italian salad (one of my fiance's recipes, so it should be interesting)
  • Saturday-  Porkchops, mashed potatoes and gravy, and mac&cheese
  • Sunday-  Steak stir fry, rice, rolls, salad

Office At Last

So this weekend was an amazing birthday weekend.  I’m spoiled so, so it wasn’t just a birthDAY, it was a birth-weekend.  Friday night we went out to dinner and the girls gave me the presents they picked out.  They’re so thoughtful, and by thoughtful I mean they really thought out what they got me so that they can play with it. LOL  I got a ladybug pillow pet named “Lollipop”, a princess card with stickers, a Hannah Montana card with a button, a jewelry set (which really was for me, so I think Daddy helped with that one), and a pink “golf hat” aka visor.  My fiancĂ© said my youngest had a fit and would not leave the store without getting the visor.  Ironically enough it fits her just right.   But all in all it was very sweet and I had a lot of fun opening my presents.

Saturday we went down to Columbus to Easton Town Center to the Container Store.  That’s pretty close to heaven for me, which is ironic because as much as I obsess over things that organize, I am organizationally challenged.  Majorly.  So after getting all kinds of new ideas there we all went to dinner at the Mongolian Grill.  Great food.  I’ve never been there before, but the fact that they had calamari on the bar made me happy.  After dinner we did some window shopping and into Apple.  They had the part I needed to hook up my HP monitor to my laptop.  So now I have TWO screens!  Makes writing my research papers sooooo much easier.  I’m truly in love with it!

Before the organization bug caught on.

After working all Sunday afternoon.

Now I can't lose my keys!

Sunday morning I got up and went to Lowes and Wal-Mart to buy some shelves, a cheap desk, and some office organizers.  My favorites are the magazine files, desk top files, and a simple box to hold my CD's and disk drives.  The best thing I found at the Container Store was the Gridit.  I really really want one. Especially after my last trip to Florida.  Would have made my computer bag so much easier to navigate.  Once I got everything and we got started it took all day to get everything put together, but it was worth it.  It has made such a difference.  I also got a front entrance organizer to hang keys and mail in, and a bulletin board for the kitchen so that we can keep up with our menu planning better.

A special area just for menus and shopping lists.
Some great magnets that liven up the area to make it fun.
I got the magnetic shopping list at Target, I can't find it online but there is a similar one here.  The days of the week magnets are from Bealls while visiting my best friend in Florida, the "E" was from Hobby Lobby during their Christmas clearance last year, and the squares are from Wal-Mart.  My next post will be this evening, I'm starting Menu Plan Monday after being inspired by Laura from I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


       I love conversations with my three and four year old on the way home (most days).  Today's topic was flowers.  A friend of ours is in the hospital and I picked up some crazy daises from the store to bring on our visit tonight.  Giving flowers is one of the girls' favorite things to do, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to show them how flowers "eat".  I told them I wanted them to help me put the flower in a vase with "food" and water.   Our conversation went something like this...

How do flowers eat food? Can we eat flower food?
No, flower food is yucky.
But bees eat flower food.
They eat food FROM the flower.  It's called pollen.
No baby, P O L L E N.
If you touch bees they will sting you.
Yes, they will.  Don't touch them.
Butterflies eat flower food too!
That's right! It's called nectar.
No, N E C T A R.  Like NECKlace. *pointing to my neck.*
Oh. (Like they were very disappointed it was so simple.)
Bee's eat honey!
No, they make honey, but they don't eat honey
Why are the cars all making smoke?
That's steam not smoke.
What is steam?
It's when cold air mixes with hot air and makes a tiny cloud
A tiny cloud that makes big clouds?
What's in the tiny clouds?
Little bitty bits of water.
Like big rain clouds with big rain?
Yes, just little bitty.
Can we touch steam?
No, it's hot.  It will burn you.
That's why clouds get mad and storm, when they get burnt by steam.
Something like that, yes.

They sure know how to make me smile.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Conscious Discipline

My fiance and I are currently taking Conscious Discipline classes, hosted by Renee Sutherland.  They are parenting classes based on the books by Becky Bailey.  I am currently reading Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline, which is a book filled with problems every parent can relate to and solutions that really work.  I think what makes these classes different is that they aren't designed to teach you how to change your child's behavior, but how to change your reaction to your child's behavior by understanding why they're behaving in a particular maner.  These classes really have been life changing evening improving.  We're still working on the life changing part.  But there have been so many benefits, I'm going to do a six part series based on each of the classes that are taught.  I hope they can help another parent that is looking for answers.