Menu for March 19 – April 1

Here is how my menu turned out last week:

TGIFriday’s Copycat Bruschetta Chicken Pasta = YUM!!

Monday:  BBQ ribs in the crockpot with tatertots or fried potatoes  (First time, very good!)
Tuesday:  Artichoke Chicken (Pampered Chef Recipe) with egg noodles  Bruschetta Chicken (I couldn’t WAIT to try this… it was amazing!)
Wednesday:  TGIFriday’s Bruschetta Chicken  Artichoke Chicken (read what happened that night here)
Thursday:  Hamburger Helper  Chicken Parmesan from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (hubby’s favorite and he had a bad week).
Friday:  Chicken & Gravy over waffles
Saturday:  Banquet at Church
Sunday:  Salisbury Steak  We ate at Olive Garden with a gift card

We had to buy diced tomatoes for the Chicken Parmesan (and picked up a bucket of ice cream while we were at the store).  This week, I’m still trying to use up most of the food in the freezer & pantry, but we are running low on almost everything so I won’t be able to go another week without shopping.  I already bought some fruit, at the farmer’s market, to take for lunches next week.  Hopefully, I can put off any stock-up trip until Sunday (April!!!). 

I’m making good use of my crockpot this week and hopefully making good progress on the nursery project.

Monday:  Hamburger Helper
Tuesday:  Crockpot Chicken Teriaki over rice
Wednesday:  Crockpot Sweet & Sour Meatballs with rice
Thursday:  Spaghetti and Meatballs (if I’m out of sauce, I may try to make a family sauce recipe and freeze it)
Friday:  Chuck E. Cheese outting or dinner with family
Saturday:  Crockpot BBQ Chicken
Sunday:  Eat out with gift cards

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DIY Nursery: Part 1

My Nursery To-Do List: 
  • Buy crib
  • Buy changing table
  • Make crib skirt (started)
  • Make quilt (started)
  • Make bumper pads
  • Make changing pad
  • Make curtains
  • Cut and hang blinds
  • Paint window frames

 The first things we did for the nursery was to buy some furniture!  I picked the Davinci Jenny Lind Stationary Crib in Cherry.  I had every intention of buying this crib from Amazon, but I found it at a local surplus store for $65 (score!!!).  I splurged a bit on this dry sink (see left) bought at a local primitive store — but I supported local business so I think it was okay to splurge.  I plan to use this as a changing table and a dresser.

I started making the rag quilt, following the tutorial by Jubilee Fabric.  I’ve never made a quilt before.  The most complicated sewing project I ever tried was making curtains for my son’s room.

I think I’m doing a pretty good job!  I am not using batting between the layers, because my baby is due in June and I do not want a heavy quilt.  I am using mostly homespun fabric and a little bit of flannel fabric.
I also started the crib skirt.  I got Simplicity Sewing Pattern 9140 because I wanted a ruffly crib skirt and most tutorials I found online were for plain crib skirts.  The pattern also includes many other crib accessories – I may try to make bumper pads from the pattern if I have time to make them.  The crib skirt will be the red plaid fabric pictured above in the quilt.  I have all of the pieces cut out and one end panel sewn on, which I got done all in one day!  I have learned that I despise hemming, so I’ve started procrastinating a bit on the other sides of the crib skirt.  Hopefully I can get some more done with it next week!
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That photo sums up my evening pretty well.  BEFORE the magnet melted, it hung on my range, to remind me “GREASE FIRE:  Turn Off Heat.  Cover Utensil With Lid.”  Just so you know, the reminder magnet does no good if it’s on fire.

I have been miserable with allergies & asthma for the last few days.  I came home to a messy house, full of things too heavy for me to move alone (28 weeks pregnant tomorrow!).  There was so much clutter that I couldn’t sit down on either couch.

So I started to clean.

There I was stomping around, huffing and puffing, being a martyr about the housework, If I have to go to work, why do I have to clean the house all by myself?  How will I be able to take care of another child on top of all of this without help?

My husband arrived home, sick, and promptly went up to lie down.  I felt my martyrdom creeping back up.  My feet are swollen, my back hurts, and I can’t breath.  I just spent my evening cleaning and now I’m cooking.   — but I bit my tongue and he trudged up the stairs.

My son and I had a lot of fun cooking – chopping artichokes, squeezing the mayonnaise bottle, and sneaking pinches of Parmesan cheese from the artichoke chicken topping!  I added a tablespoon of oil to stainless steel skillet and put it on the stove to heat up for “1-3 minutes” (per the directions in the recipe).  We continued “tenderizing” the chicken, and having a little too much fun.

My amazingly gifted seven-year-old photographer snapped this one while we cooked.

The next thing I knew my son was yelling, “MOM! SMOKE!”  I ran to the stove to move the skillet to a cool burner and it burst into flames.  I screamed for my husband.. and screamed again… and again.  In the meantime the smoke detector went off and my son ran upstairs to get my husband.

There it was again.  Martyrdom.  Why didn’t he come down sooner?  Why wasn’t he there to help me?  I didn’t say anything — we worked together to open windows and get the smoke out, then my husband went back up to lie down.

At least I’m improving…  I kept my thoughts to myself and avoided an pointless argument with my husband.  But, inside, it felt like a meltdown.  I felt so stressed and helpless.  Negative thoughts build in my mind until it overwhelms me.  But, the only person I was thinking about was me.

James 4:6-7 says “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  

God favors the humble.  

  • I am too proud.  I need to remember that I am human; a human who makes mistakes.
  • My son just wanted to play.  I need to remember I’m raising a human; a human who makes mistakes.
  • My husband just needed to rest.  I need to remember that I married a human; a human who makes mistakes.    

I love and care for both my husband and son, but did a horrible job of showing it today.  I’m going to be doing my best to think about their feelings and motives before I get upset (to avoid another meltdown).

How do you deal with the feeling of being helpless when homemaking becomes overwhelming?  What has been your best idea to keep from becoming overwhelmed?

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time management

Weekly Goals (March 19 -25)

I forgot to write goals for last week, because after a week off and daylight savings, I was a mess.  Early in the week I was in a car accident and most of my attention went to that for the rest of the week!  Here was my list from the beginning of March:

Family Goals:
Go for a walk together (My feet were very swollen and I was advised to just relax)
Play a board game together
Attend kid’s group at church
Take my turn in the book we’re reading together (I picked out my next activity and just need to do it)

Homemaking Goals:
Hang pictures in the dining room and living room (we recently switched these rooms)
Make at least one freezer meal for after pregnancy
Stick to the menu I planned
Get ready to entertain at the birthday party on Saturday

Work Goals:
Relax and don’t think about it! 🙂

I think I did fairly well.  I made far more than one freezer meal for after pregnancy (though, I’m not sure how many will last until June – they look so yummy!)  As for being a productive spring break – I’ve had better.  I didn’t even realize I hadn’t accomplished anything until Thursday when I sat down to plan my freezer cooking.  It was nice to relax a little bit, at home, by myself, pre-baby 🙂

Family Goals:
Read a book with my son every night before bed.
Go for a walk together.
Make resurrection cookies.

Homemaking Goals:
Use the clotheslines, not the dryer.
Finish sewing the crib skirt (one side attached already).
Sew half of the squares for the rag quilt.
List the washer and bed in the classifieds.

Work Goals:
Grade assignments within one class meeting.
Refresh waiting list by emailing everyone to see who is still interested.

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menu, recipes

Menu for March 19 – 25

I didn’t do such a great job sticking to my menu last week, but I learned a very valuable lesson.  I was in a small car accident on Tuesday and my husband talked me into dinner at a restaurant after such a crazy day.  Sometimes, it’s important to plan your menu and budget your grocery trips.  Sometimes those things are very important.  But, sometimes, you just need to relax, spent time with your family, and thank God for your blessings.  I’m 7 months pregnant, so a major car accident could have been tragic for us.  I walked away without a scratch and my car has chipped paint on the bumper.  We are very blessed.

I’m still sticking to my grocery budget and going another week without shopping (only buying milk).  This week, I’m planning to cook the following:

Monday:  BBQ ribs in the crockpot with tatertots or fried potatoes
Tuesday:  Artichoke Chicken (Pampered Chef Recipe) with egg noodles
Wednesday:  TGIFriday’s Bruschetta Chicken
Thursday:  Hamburger Helper
Friday:  Chicken & Gravy over waffles
Saturday:  Banquet at Church
Sunday:  Salisbury Steak

I am really excited to try the Bruschetta Chicken recipe.  It’s my favorite dish from TGIFriday’s and I have been craving it soooo badly!!  I was so excited to see that I had all of the ingredients on hand.  At first, I didn’t have any tomatoes, but my boss just brought us all tomatoes from her vacation in Florida.  I did promise my (very-picky-eater) husband that if he does not like it, I will cook him spaghetti and meatballs on Sunday so he can get his pasta fix.  Maybe I’ll post a tutorial if the recipe is a hit!

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Menu for March 12-18

I stuck with my menu this week!  Congrats to me 🙂  We also have spent almost our entire grocery budget already this month, because I made a trip to Sam’s club early this week.  I wanted to prove to my husband that paying for our membership really doesn’t save us any money.  So, I wrote down the prices for all of the things we buy at the local store (generic brands when available) and I took my list to Sam’s club to compare.  Most things were actually a good deal, especially boneless skinless chicken breasts (which we eat a lot) — so I bought fish sticks, chicken tenders, tater tots, coffee, ranch dressing mix, and about 20 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts.  And, these name-brand products, like Tyson chicken tenders, were a better deal then the generic brands from the local grocery store.  All good deals, but I blew the grocery budget doing it.  So, for the rest of the month, we’re going to be eating out of the pantry as much as possible!!!

The new pot roast recipe was a hit!  I didn’t realize the recipe doesn’t really call for a crockpot until after I started throwing things into the crockpot… but I just kept going and added the first 11 ingredients to the crockpot and it was the best pot roast I’ve ever made!! It also cooked really quickly, so I ended up taking it out of the crockpot and heating it up in a roasting pan, later when my husband got home.  I served it with egg noodles and beef broth.  YUM!!

Next week’s menu:

  • Monday: Pork BBQ Sandwiches with tatertots
  • Tuesday:  Salisbury Steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, and corn
  • Wednesday:  BBQ Pork Ribs with fried potatoes
  • Thursday:  Chicken Alfredo served over penne with garlic toast
  • Friday:  Takeout
  • Saturday:  Leftovers and Dinner with family
  • Sunday:  Shrimp Scampi served over angel hair pasta

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freezer cooking

Third Trimester Freezer Cooking

I have a month and a half of work left before I can kick back and relax (and frantically rush to get everything ready) until the baby arrives.  I’m sure I’ll start to feel more tired, more cranky, and less motivated to do anything nonbaby related.  Freezer meals make my life so much easier!! When I don’t get home until 6:00 pm and our son goes to bed at 8:00 pm, I don’t want to spend an hour of that time cooking dinner! (On a side note:  I’m really considering, and praying a lot, about being a SAHM after the baby is born in June!!)

Another reason I like freezer cooking is because it helps me stay within our grocery budget.  If I buy all of the groceries for the month at one time, I can avoid those nightly trips to the store to grab sour cream (or Doritos…) that really start to add up.  I can plan a few weeks or even a month’s menu around one week’s sales and curb our spending a bit.

Today’s “menu” includes:
Cupcakes (for the birthday party on Saturday)
Shredded Chicken Breasts
Pot Roast
Cheeseburger Meatloaf
Macaroni and Cheese
Chicken Ranch Casserole
Southwest Rollups
BBQ Chicken
Marinated Chicken

As soon as I got up this morning I threw the frozen chicken breast in the crockpot.  I’ve found this is the easiest way to cook it when I plan to shred it, because it just falls apart when I take it out.  I’ve also found that I like using boneless chicken breasts — because it’s less work, and still cheaper than buying shredded chicken in a can.

After taking my son to the bus stop, I headed to the grocery store.  I needed cake mix (because he requested chocolate), eggs, milk, and various things for the party.  But, the cake needed to go in first so I didn’t forget about it!

While the cupcakes were baking, I called my grandmother to ask for her peanut butter icing recipe.  Of course, she is one who cooks without recipes most of the time, so she offered to just make it for me.  She’s going to “try” to write down what she does.  🙂 We’ll see.

I stopped for a mid-morning snack 🙂 When I was pregnant with my son, I would “make” brownies, just so I could eat the batter.  Chocolate chocolate chunk… yummm.

The pot roastI made on Thursday was a huge hit, so I decided to throw together another one to freeze.  I needed to use up some onions and potatoes that have been in the cupboard for awhile, so this keeps me from wasting them.

We haven’t tried this cheeseburger meatloaf, yet.  But, judging from how delicious it looked when I mixed it up, I’m sure it won’t stay in the freezer for long!

I boiled some rotini noodles for the macaroni and cheese.  Then I stopped to take a baby-bump picture (25 wks)!  Look, my flirty apronstill fits.. kind of.  I also desperately need a hair cut…

When I freeze a casserole, or anything that goes in a specific dish, I first line the dish with foil, then plastic wrap.  Then, after the food is frozen solid, I can take it out of the dish and use the dish for something else!  These are two 1.5 qt casserole dishes that I use to make the macaroni and cheese.

The noodles are done!  As you’ll notice, I do not have “kitchen counters”.  I have a dishwasher (that does not work) with a butcher block on top that I use as a prep station, but my crockpot has to sit on top of my stove when I use it.  Probably not the safest idea, but I am not typically using the stove-top when I have the crockpot out.

Another side note is that I LOVE these pots!  Cleaning my plastic strainer was the bane of my existence, until my grandmother-in-law gave me these for Christmas.  No more strainer!!

It took me a really long time to get the milk to thicken for the macaroni and cheese.  I whisked and whisked and whisked — and took a potty break because someone was kicking my bladder — and whisked, and whisked, and whisked.  Finally, I turned the heat up to medium-high, and it thickened right away.  The cheese melted really easily, too.

The chicken ranch casserole is all wrapped up in the freezer.  I have to figure out how to make this recipe without scorching milk on the bottom of my pots and pans.  I made this with rotini this time, but last time I used choo-choo wheels.  Food should be fun 🙂

Next up was the Southwest Rollups from’s Freezer Cooking eBook.  These were really easy and folded up a lot more nicely than I thought they would.  I only made half the recipe since we’ve never tried them before and I only had 8 tortillas.

The chicken in the crockpot took about 6 hours on low.  I used four chicken breasts from Sam’s Club.  Usually the Sam’s Club chicken is a lot bigger and juicy than the chicken from our local grocery stores.  It shred very easily after being the the crockpot!

I only had tiny snack bags to bag the chicken, but I fit one cup in each bag.  I got 6-1/2 cups of chicken and that’s after I used 1-1/2 cups in the chicken ranch casserole and 1 cup in the Southwest Rollups.  I eat these on salads and my husband likes to make chicken salad with crackers.

I didn’t get to EVERYTHING on my list… but I think I did a pretty good job.  The two chicken meals I skipped are simply marinade+chicken to be cooked in the crockpot.  My son will be disappointed that I didn’t get to the waffles!!
Now… if only the “dishwashing fairies” weren’t already booked for today…  This is actually my third sinkful of dishes.  I try to use the same dishes all day long and just wash them over and over to stay on top of things.  Maybe someday I’ll invest in a functioning dishwasher!!
Happy Cooking!
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devotions, dinner, family, resolutions

New Years Resolution Check-Up: Dinner as a Family

My New Year’s Resolution was to eat dinner together around the dining room table.  
I cook dinner most nights of the week and we do eat together as a family every night.  However, most of the time it’s in the living room, off the tray table, in front of the TV.  But, the important part is that we are still eating together.
Why I want to do it:
Statistics show that eating as a family lowers all kinds of risk factors in kids:  risk of being overweight, risk of eating disorders, risk of drug and alcohol abuse… the list goes on and on.  My primary reason for choosing this resolution is more selfish:  I have my great-grandmother’s antique dining room table and six antique chairs purchased from our church… and I LOVE antiques.  I’d love to put them to use!!!  I also have great memories from growing up and eating at the table every night.  Dinner was served at 5:00 pm.  We always had a meat, potato, and vegetable.  We always sat in the same chairs.  We all helped clear the table.  Mom cooked.  Dad washed the dishes.  One of the kids set the table while the other one got everyone drinks.  The event was filled with tradition for us.  And, I would like for my children to experience something similar.
Eating at the table forces us into a routine:  setting the table, eating, clearing the table.  Without a routine, the work doesn’t get done.  The kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes and the table is cluttered.  

Eating at the table (and preparing to eat at the table) promotes teamwork and responsibility.  You can’t really teach a child to “set the table” when dinner is served buffet-style and eaten from a seat on the couch.  

Eating at the table encourages communication between family members.  It’s far too easy to sit in silence in front of the tv– but our dinner table is always filled with heated discussions.

Spark the conversation:One thing we started doing as part of this resolution is to use the “question jar” idea.  You fill a jar with conversation starting questions and each night you pick one out.  I recently attended the Real World Parents Seminar where I learned about a twist on this idea.  Mark Matlock has categorized 55 of the Proverbs into different themes and has created a card for each Proverb in the Wisdom Deck.  As a family, you can discuss which theme you think the Proverb belongs in and why, if it belongs in more than one, if you agree with what the card says, etc.  So, not only are you sparking conversation at the dinner table, but you’re also exploring scripture!!

Do you do devotions as a family?  When do you do it?  Do you use a devotions book?
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time management

Weekly Goals (March 5 -11)

I have a whole week off work!  I made quite a long to-do list for this week… but so far I am making good progress!

Family Goals:
Go for a walk together
Play a board game together
Attend kid’s group at church
Take my turn in the book we’re reading together

Homemaking Goals:
Hang pictures in the dining room and living room (we recently switched these rooms)
Make at least one freezer meal for after pregnancy
Stick to the menu I planned
Get ready to entertain at the birthday party on Saturday

Work Goals:
Relax and don’t think about it! 🙂

On a side note, since we’ve started using a new budget software, we have done a great job of sticking to our monthly budget!

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Menu for March 5-11

I try my best to plan a menu each week for my family that works well with our many extracurricular activities.  When I work late and know I need to have the family at a cub scout den meeting, I plan a crockpot meal.  When I forget to put the food in the crockpot, then we eat out.  A terrible, terrible habit.  I really do enjoy cooking and trying new recipes.  So, when I have a day off, I have a chance to experiment with something more difficult than throwing chicken and bbq sauce in the crockpot. 

This week, we had scouts on Monday, a meeting Tuesday, kid’s group at church on Thursday, and a birthday party Saturday.  Looks like a lot of crockpot dinners.  BUT, I have this week off work!!  My husband, Chris, has already commented that he hopes I find a work-at-home job after our next child is born, because I’ve had the chance to cook every night this week.

Monday:  Chicken Parmesan with thin spaghetti (Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)
Tuesday:  Tangy Ranch Chicken, baked macaroni and cheese, green beans with brown sugar sauce.
Wednesday:  General Tso’s Chicken with Knorr’s chicken fried rice.
Thursday:  Pot Roast and noodles with beef broth
Friday:  Pizza/Takeout
Saturday:  Hot Dogs and Hamburgers
Sunday:  Dinner with family. 

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