Tuesday, December 31, 2013

This week's menu... 12/30/13-1/5/14...

So, long time no post.  Sorry guys, the holidays are always a little crazy around here...  basically, from mid-October-Halloween-planning through mid-April (my Mom's birthday), I'm pretty busy...  but especially from Thanksgiving through Valentine's Day...  then come more birthdays...  anyway, I'll get into more of that in a future post.  This one is about our menu...

...this week's menu...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

This week's menu... 12/9/13-12/15/13...

Oh, man...  I love the holidays, but holycrapamIexhausted!  Seriously, there's so much going on that I don't even feel like meal planning (which is something that I'd normally look forward to).  I'm sure I'll get over it once the holidays are through...

...this week's menu...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

This week's menu... 12/2/13-12/8/13...

I've already written this post once, but our internet connection sucked for a few minutes and I lost everything, so blah-blah-blah...  busy week...  this post is late....  blah, blah, whatever...

Here it is.

...this week's menu...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

This week's menu... 11/18/13-11/24/13...

So, last week's menu didn't go quite as planned...  While the recipes were fantastic,  I got bored eating the same meals so often.  If you look at the action plan, you'll see what I mean - lots of eating the same soup for dinner, then lunch, then dinner two nights later...  I just couldn't do it.  Maybe I'll try again after the holidays.

On a different note:  I'm officially down 25 lbs. since January!  Yay!

...and now for today's business...
...this week's menu...

Monday, November 11, 2013

This week's menu... 11/11/13-11/17/13...

So, I'm doing things a little differently this week...  My friend, Nikki, recently sent me a message saying that she wanted to do this:  wholeliving.com's action plan

Well, my weight-loss could use a kick in the butt, that's for sure.  To be honest, I've hit a BIG plateau and haven't really been motivated lately (thank goodness I haven't gained anything, but I haven't been losing the weight I'd like to either).  I figure that a little motivation from my friend and from Martha Stewart won't hurt.

Because I'm a mother and a wife, I'm planning my meals *around* Whole Living's action plan, I'm most likely not going to follow it exactly (this time, at least).  I'll be adding in extra proteins and making minor changes to keep my husband and kids happy and full.

(we'll be sharing more about this on Create! Don't Consume! as we go)

So, here it is...

...this week's menu...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Cookies

I recently saw a recipe for pumpkin spice cake cookies on Pinterest...  around the same time, I saw a recipe for a DIY spice cake mix.  Well, of course my brain put the two together -- and added chocolate chips.  

The results were amazing.  

The original recipe for the spice cake mix came from bakerette.com (she has instructions for making an actual cake with the mix, but that's not what we're doing today)...  I followed her recipe pretty closely, except that I replaced the vegetable shortening with hard coconut oil.  I couldn't tell you if it made a difference in flavor or not since it was my first time using this recipe.

Anyway, onto the cookies!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Cookies

(full recipe  ----------  ingredient  ----------  half recipe)
about 60  ----------  yield  ----------  about 30

2 1/3 cups  ----------  all-purpose flour  ----------  1 1/4 cups

1/3 cup  ----------  nonfat dry milk  ----------  3 Tbsp
3 tsp  ----------  baking powder  ----------  1 1/2 tsp
3/4  ----------  tsp salt  ----------  3/8 tsp
1 1/2 cups  ----------  white sugar  ----------  3/4 cup
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp  ----------  solid coconut oil  ----------  1/4 cup, plus 1/2 Tbsp
1 tsp  ----------  cinnamon  ----------  1/2 tsp
1/4 tsp  ----------  ground cloves  ----------  1/8 tsp
1/4 tsp  ----------  ground allspice  ----------  1/8 tsp
(you can stop here if you just want the cake mix)
**note: you could just use one (for half) or two (for the full recipe) boxes of store-bought cake mix,
but where's the fun in that?**

29 oz. can (or 2 2/3 cups)  -------  pureed pumpkin  -------  15 oz. can (1 1/3 cups)

11.5-12 oz. bag  ----------  milk chocolate chips  ----------  1/2 11.5-12 oz. bag
(optional, or substitute with dairy free chips to make them vegan)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine cake mix ingredients until the oil is well incorporated.

Stir in the pumpkin, then fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop cookies using a tablespoon onto parchment lined cookie sheets, leaving about 1" to 1 1/2" between cookies.

Bake for about 20 minutes (rotating the pan halfway through), or until cookies are set and just starting to brown on the bottom.


I packaged them in parchment so the kids can take them to school!
Needless to say, they were a little excited this morning.

Let me know if you try these!
What else would you mix-in to them?

Monday, November 4, 2013

This week's menu... 11/4/13-11/10/13...

When I started my menu planning for the week, I was interrupted and set the planner down on the kitchen counter....

...at which point, my husband decided to help with the planning...

...this week's *real* menu...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Quick Tip: natural rust inhibitor

After sharing my recent post about rust removal, a friend who works with metal informed me that, while lemon juice and salt might have removed the rust from my cheese graters they would also expose the metal and make it rust again and faster.  He suggested that I oil them to add some protection.

Between my friend and Google, I found that it's best to use food safe oils in the kitchen (for what should be obvious reasons).

So, here's what I did:

I laid out a towel over my workspace
and gathered my materials
(food safe oil [I used olive], a washcloth and the stuff i'm trying to protect)...

...I put a few drops of olive oil onto the washcloth...

...I dripped oil right onto the smaller hard-to-get-into areas...

...and buffed it in...

...then I wiped off the excess oil with a clean cotton cloth...

So shiny!

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve to get rid of/prevent rust?
Comment and share your knowledge if you do!

Friday, November 1, 2013

...and the winner of my giveaway is...

...Amy Kuhr!

Congratulations, Amy!  I'll be in touch with you soon!

I hope you enjoy using these items in your home!

Monday, October 28, 2013

This week's menu... 10/28/13-11/3/13...

...this week's menu...

Monday:  Asian marinated salmon with broccoli

Tuesday:  Buffalo chicken pasta with peas

Thursday:  MUMMY pizza night!

Friday:  Spaghetti night

Saturday:  Leftovers

Sunday:  Musaka

What's on your menu this week?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Natural rust removal...

I recently discovered a new-to-me YouTuber, Melissa Maker and her channel "Clean My Space"  thanks to one of my "old favorites" ("Organized Clutterbug") mentioning her in a video about natural cleaning.  Of course, I've spent most of my time over the past two days watching TONS of her videos!

This morning, I came across this one: "Clean My Space" - "Shine Your Flatware & Glassware | Day 5 of The 12 Days Of Clean!"  In this video, she goes over basic shining, but what really caught my attention was when she started talking about removing rust from flatware.

I have a couple of vintage cheese graters that are horribly rusted, but they look so neat that I can't bear to part with them (I only show the circular one here, as that was the rustier of the two)...

Note: none of these photos have been edited more than cropping (and text on one), I didn't want a filter to mess with how the rust looked.

This is how I cleaned them:

I started with my rusty grater...

Then I gathered my tools:
my (kitchen) cleaning toothbrush, 
a clean rag, a bowl with equal parts salt and lemon juice
and a towel or paper towel to work on.

I got some of the salt/lemon juice mixture on the toothbrush...

...and scrubbed it all over.

Then I buffed it out with the rag,
using the salt/lemon juice mixture as needed.

After washing and *thoroughly* towel drying.


Now, I will say that I probably still won't be using them for cooking,
but they look a lot prettier hanging on my wall without significantly less rust.

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve to get rid of/prevent rust?
Comment and share your knowledge if you do!

Monday, October 21, 2013

This week's menu... 10/21/13-10/27/13...

I realized as I was typing up this week's menu just how lazy I'm feeling toward cooking this week...  and you know what?  I'm gonna go ahead and allow it.  Time needs to go toward more important things this week...  like Halloween costumes and winter knitting.  Especially with the possibility of snow in tomorrow's forecast.  

REALLY, Illinois???  Snow in October?!?!  


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

So tired, but so worth it...

I'm exhausted.  I spent *hours* (literally) running around and cooking in preparation for the blog posts that are coming up on Create! Don't Consume!

Nikki and I got a lot done today...

...and dinner was amazing because of it.

Check out what we're up to at Create! Don't Consume!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

This week's menu... 10/14/13-10/20/13...

...how many days have I missed now?  ::sad face::

It's okay 'cause I've still posted a heckuva lot more than usual this month.  Keep on the sunny side, right?

The past few days have been crazy busy...  The kids had a four-day weekend, so we filled it with a pumpkin farm, some housework and our city's Scarecrow Fest.  Lots of fun!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"American Horror Story", Witches brew and pumpkin flavored *everything*, oh my!

Oh man, am I enjoying this month!

I've recently started watching "American Horror Story" from the beginning on Netflix, and I'm hooked.  I love everything about this show.  Especially when paired with my pumpkin spice coffee.

Last night, my friend Nikki and I got together, shared a bottle of Witches Brew (my favorite $5 wine) and did some planning/blogging, and stayed up way too late...  We came up with a neat idea to talk about a food item (or a few) each month.  This month, we chose pumpkins and winter squash --which we posted about today.

Hmm, what else?  ...I'm going to start my Halloween costume tonight...  I'm going as a fox (I made a tail a few years ago), so I'll be making this hat.

Oh, and we're going to the pumpkin farm tomorrow!  Yay!

I think I might have to make a fall bucket list.  There are some great ideas here.

...Now for a scary movie with the husband...

Can you tell I'm tired?
Do you get spacey and jump from one topic to the next when you're over-tired?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"The Scream"

Sorry about my bad mood while I was writing my last post...  apparently the issue is with my web browser (the last update has some issues, it seems).

...and I realized this morning that I spaced out posting yesterday.  Again, I apologize.  I guess daily posts are an unrealistic thing for me, but there's no reason that I can't post more than my usual menu planning post.

Life has been busy.  Last week, then again today, I went to my kids' schools to do a presentation for "AVIC" (Art Volunteers In the Classroom) for each of their classes (kindergarten, 2nd grade and 4th grade).  LOTS of fun!  The schools have paintings that the volunteers can choose from, or we can pick a different one (as long as it's kid-friendly, of course  ...Tim Burton is *not*...  ::sad face::).

I did "The Scream" by Edvard Munch...  did you know that he did *four* different versions?

Plus a bunch of lithographs!
(this is my favorite version)

We talked about other artists taking inspiration from this painting, like Andy Warhol's pop art version, this version featuring Homer Simpson and even The Silence from "Doctor Who" being inspired by the painting.

Seriously, guys.  It was awesome.  ...and Edvard Munch was pretty neat.  It was fun researching an artist that I've never researched before.

If you look for kids' projects based on this painting on Google, you'll find lots of the same basic idea.  I'll have to share their projects when they come home from school.  Every one of the kids in each of their classes did a great job.

...Here's a preview of what's to come...

What excites/inspires you?
What makes you want to scream?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Halloween prep... is what I'd like to post about, but alas...

What's today?  ...the 7th?  This blogging everyday idea might prove to be more difficult than anticipated.  Wish me luck.

Tonight, my mom came over to help with Halloween decorating and to do a craft with the kids (I'll post more about that another day).  I've also been feeling inspired...

...at which point I would like to add a picture that I took today (check out my Instagram, it's on there), but my computer isn't cooperating.  Lamesauce.

I'm irritated and should probably stop writing at this point 'cause it's probably not going to be filled with puppies and sunshine.

I'll be back tomorrow.

...hopefully less crabby and with working technology.

What pisses you off?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

This week's menu... 10/7/13-10/13/13...

...this week's menu...

Monday:  buffalo chicken pasta (never happened last week, so here it is again)
Tuesday:  maple glazed turkey breast
Wednesday:  soup and salad
Thursday:  meatloaf and broccoli bites
Friday:  pizza night!
Saturday:  peppered salmon with roasted root vegetables
Sunday:  leftovers (or pasta)

What's on your menu this week?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Blame it on Ariel...

Tonight the kids and I spent some time deep-cleaning the living room while listening to the "Disney (children's)" station on pandora...  While clearing the clutter off of the dresser that we use as a TV stand and listening to Ariel belt out, "I've got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty, I've got whozits and whatzits galore.  You want thingamabobs?  I've got twenty!  But who cares?  No big deal, I want mooooore," I got to thinking....  

"The Little Mermaid" came out when I was six.  It was the first Disney movie that I ever saw in the theater, so it was a BIG deal to me.  I remember it *very* clearly.  I *loved* it.  Ariel was a smart girl who wasn't afraid to speak her mind and stand up for what she believed in.

And she was a freaking hoarder.

...no wonder I have such a hard time giving up things that I love, Ariel taught me that it's okay to keep crap that means nothing to me.  And that it's okay to want MORE.  

Even a dinglehopper.

...Seriously now, though...  With five people living here, we've accumulated an awful lot of "stuff."  Purging sucks, but it's necessary.  I've gotten a lot better at deciding what to get rid of, now I just need to get it out of the house.  

We have multiple "Goodwill baskets/bins" -a laundry basket sitting in the dining room, a fabric bin in the girls' closet and a large, plastic bin in my husband's and my room.  They're all full, which is great, but they've all been full for awhile.  So, my goal for tonight: sort what goes to Goodwill, what goes to my cousin's daughter and what goes to my husband's cousin's son.  My goal for tomorrow morning: take that s#!+ to Goodwill/schedule when to get stuff to the cousins' houses.

Do you have a hard time following through with plans that you've made with yourself?
Don't forget to check out my giveaway!

Friday, October 4, 2013

...I'm struggling to keep my eyes open...

Long day.  Lots of running around.  Lots of housework.  Good progress overall...  But now I'm too pooped to write anything.

See you in the morning.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

...just a note...

(I wrote the first part of this last night...)

I'm being naughty right now...  I'm not making the pot roast that I had planned for dinner.  Instead, I'm hanging out at the park with my two youngest kids while the big one is at Girl Scouts making a scarecrow for our town's upcoming Scarecrow Fest.  We need this.  We all do.  So it's okay that I'm being naughty.

I'm proud of myself for posting so much lately...  I think I'm going to challenge myself to do a post every day of October.  I figure that I've been pretty motivated lately -with life in general- so I might as well keep up the momentum.

It's been awhile since I shared about my weight loss...  I'm currently down 20 lbs. from where I started in January.  Not as much as I'd like, but going in the right direction, so I'm pleased.  (This is where I started writing today...)  I've been using My Fitness Pal -I'm "Zappacat" on there- I love the social aspect of it, especially the encouragement that my friends and I give each other.  

Tonight, Moo had Girl Scouts again...  and again tomorrow...  but they're working hard, so I get it.  I hung out and "helped" (wish I could have done more, but I guess squirting paint on plates for them and throwing some stuff out was still kind of helpful)...  It was fun.  Plus, she had a field trip out in the woods (and in the rain) this morning...  also lots of fun.  Needless to say, I'm exhausted at this point, but it's neat to see her in her "natural habitat" and I'm getting to know more of the moms at school and am finding out that most of them are pretty cool ladies.  

So, yeah I guess there was no real point to this post when I started, but I think it can relate back to my New Year's resolution to be a better version of me.  I honestly feel that I've made a lot of big changes.  Not every day is a great one, but in general my quality of life has improved because of the changes that I've chosen to make in my life that all relate directly to me and my insecurities/health/goals/passions....

In short, I'm a lot happier than I was ten months ago.

My husband took this picture of me today.
...I don't think it's horrible.

Are you making changes in your life?
What have you done lately that's "out of the ordinary" for you?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

100th post! ....and my first GIVEAWAY!!!

Wow!  100 posts!!!  To thank you for taking time to read my constant blabbering on, I'm going to do my first ever giveaway!

"What can I win?" you might ask...

This menu planner!
(the background is very light blue and swirly...
You can't see it very well with the filter on the image, sorry)

...and an embroidered flour sack towel to go with it!

Made just for you by me!

"Wow, that's awesome!" you might say, "...How can I win it?"

...Funny you should ask...
  1. Follow this blog.
  2. "Like" my Facebook page.
  3. Check out friend's and my other blog, Create! Don't Consume! and answer both of our surveys there.  (There is a link to our surveys under the "Create!  Don't Consume!" blog header) 
  4. Comment on this blog post letting me know that you completed the other requirements and what your favorite part of fall is.
...a winner will be chosen using random.org on 11/01/2013 and will be announced on this blog and on my Facebook page.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Making our lives easier...

While we're still (kind of) in back-to-school mode, I wanted to share a few things that I've implemented with my kids that have really helped to keep all of us on track...

Morning checklists: I used Command hooks on our front door to hang cheap-o dry erase boards that I happened to find in each of the kids' colors (so they know which one is theirs at a glance).  I glued a little ribbon on the back to make it easy to hang up.  On school nights (or in the morning if I spaced it out the night before), I quickly run through what each kid needs to do to be ready to leave for school.  I generally write it all out once at the beginning of the week, then just re-draw the check boxes daily.

Breakfast choices: I printed two 3x5 note cards, one with breakfast entrees and one with fruits.  If we have another kids of fruit or maybe leftover french toast, I just stick a post-it note by the other choices.  The kids stick their magnets (again, in their colors) on their choice before bed every night.

This makes my mornings *soooo* much easier!  I can do minor prep the night before and breakfast is usually on the table by the time the kids get up (I try to get up half an hour before them....  when I can...)

Snack choices: Again, I printed on a 3x5 note card.  Then I used a sheet protector to "laminate" it so that the kids can use the magnetic dry erase marker (that's next to it) to mark off what they've had.  (Note: veggie snacks are unlimited, it's just on the check list to make sure that they take at least one)

Our weekday schedule: This one is the big one...  I sat down one day and wrote out usual weekday schedule.  Then I added pictures, printed it up and stuck it on the fridge.  We use a little magnet to keep track of where we are in the day.  (I also have alarms set for most of our evening stuff)

...Here's what our schedule looks like:

6:30 wake up
7:00 breakfast
7:45 leave for school
8:00-11:15 Mom's housework time
11:20(ish) Ollie gets dropped off at bus stop
12:00 lunch
12:30 Ollie's play time
1:00 Ollie's homework time
2:00 Ollie's nap time
3:00(ish) girls come home/snack time/play time
4:00 girls' homework time
5:00-5:30 kids' housework time
5:30 kids' t.v. time/play time
6:00 play time
6:30 dinner
7:15 kid #1 showers (other kids read)
7:30 kid #2 showers (other kids read)
7:45 kid #3 showers (other kids read)
8:00 bedtime/grown up reads
8:30 lights out!

...I'm realizing as I writing that this all looks a little overboard, but I have to say that, as a mother of three who also has ADD, it *really* helps me.  Like A LOT.  It seems to help the kids, too...  plus, they think it's fun to check things off and move their magnets.  

Would you try any of this, or do you think I'm crazy?  (haha)
How do you keep your family on track?

Monday, September 30, 2013

This week's menu... 9/30/13-10/6/13...

...keepin' it short again this week...  lots to do, so I'm sticking with our go-to recipes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How I go about my menu planning....

I got to thinking recently that I share my meal plans pretty regularly, but it might be useful for someone new to menu planning to understand my process...  So.  This is how we do.

There are a few things that I consider before I start willy-nilly picking out recipes for the week:

  • What to we have that needs to be used?
    • This means checking the fridge, freezer and the pantry
  • What is on sale and/or in season right now that I'd like to take advantage of?
    • This covers seasonal cravings like pot roast, too...
  • What does my family's schedule look like this week?
    • ...do either of the girls have Girl Scouts?  Do I have any meetings about school functions?  What does my husband's work schedule look like this week?  ...soup and salad or leftovers are usually on the menu on these nights.
  • What will my family want to eat this week?
    • I usually give my husband a few choices (i.e. pork chops or chicken legs?);  the kids are easier --pizza night is mostly for them

...So, this is what it might look like when I'm getting started:

Monday:  me- daytime meeting (this one really wasn't a big time-eater, but it's good to be prepared and avoid planning something huge that could require a lot of prep)
Wednesday:  husband closes (my free night!!!  I can make anything I want to because the family's picky eater wont be here to complain about it!)
Thursday:  Moo Girl Scouts (when either of the girls have scouts, they need to eat early...  this could mean a sandwich before scouts and a snack after)
Friday:  pizza night (every Friday)
Saturday:  husband closes (another free night!)
Sunday:  husband off (I usually do my best to make something he won't hate)

...Now, I start filling in with our "usuals":

Monday:  me- daytime meeting
Wednesday:  husband closes
Thursday:  Moo Girl Scouts
Friday:  pizza night
Saturday:  leftovers (having leftovers on Saturday gives us a little more time to play as a family)
Sunday:  soup and salad (same idea as above...  soup and salad=easy meal)

...Next, I check out Pinterest and choose from my recipe boards based on what we have and what we want to eat and fill in the blanks...

Monday:  Honey mustard pork chops (we had chops in the freezer, and the honey mustard chop recipe is one of my family's favorites)
Tuesday:  Roasted chicken (I had enough time to make my go-to chicken recipe)
Wednesday:  Quinoa chili (husband is working, which means I can make chili [that he's not a fan of but the rest of us love])
Thursday:  Curry chicken salad (made with leftover chicken, and nice and easy for a irl Scout meeting night)
Friday:  pizza night
Saturday:  leftovers (having leftovers on Saturday gives us a little more time to play as a family)
Sunday:  soup and salad (same idea as above...  soup and salad=easy meal)

I know that this looks wordy, but it all makes sense in my head...

Please, let me know what you think...
Did this help you?
Do you/will you menu plan?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

This week's menu... 9/16/13-9/22/13...

Good Monday morning!  I'm feeling exhausted after a busy and chilly Midwest weekend.  Fall seems to be in full swing here...  so much that I'm thinking I need to make some pumpkin spice coffee today. 

It's also time to start my fall/winter craft projects.  This means Halloween costumes, slippers and hats!  (Oh, my!)

This week's menu looks kind of autumnal, even...  meat, slowcooker meals, stews...  Mmmmm....