What I learned in January….

What

Well January is all wrapped up and there are some things I learned this month that I thought I would share.  Emily Freeman over at her blog has a link up party each month for others to share what they learned too.

  1. Democracy Jeans.  Ok so it is was time for me to accept that Old Navy or Target might not make the best jeans for a 42 year old Mom of 4. I went shopping with a friend to Nordstrom Rack (which I hardly ever do) and she was exchanging a pair of Democracy Jeans for a different size.  I decided to give these jeans a try.  To say I love them would be an understatement.  They have a stretchy band around the waist that makes my muffin top so happy. (Did I just admit to my muffin top online?) Try them out for $39 they were so worth it.  
  2. Kids remember what to do when there is money involved.  We could talk for days about philosophies on kids doing work around the house.  They are part of our family and are expected to help out. But in our house this was a constant battle.  I was nagging all the time and so frustrated with kids not taking care of their own stuff. This month we started using Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Jr.  It has been a game changer around here.  All four kids have charts with chores which they get paid for on Sunday.  I have nagged less and more has been done this week than ever before.  They have to do their jobs every day to earn commision at the end of the week.  If they miss one day then no pay.  Check it out it.
  3. Planning for lunch after church on Sunday is a great idea.  Our church doesn’t get out till 12:30 and we get home around 1 each week.  This makes lunch late and people are starving.  The last 3 weeks I have put something in the crockpot for lunch.  It has been so nice to walk into lunch already prepared.
  4. I love Periscope.  Are you familiar with Periscope?  It is kind of like a live YouTube.  You can subscribe to people on the app and then you will be notified when they are live. You can interact and comment while they are talking.  It has been fun to get to know new bloggers and also to hear the voices behind their words.  My favorite scoper is Stacey from Humorous Homemaking.  She is really funny.  I am thinking about starting to use Periscope. I would love to have you join me soon.
  5. Motherhood can be lonely. This year is a big year of transition for me.  My baby is in school everyday for a full day.  So that means I can count on alone time 5 days a week.  I dreamed of these days and am loving them.  But there is something interesting that has happened I have gotten lonely.  Although I love the quiet and the freedom it brings me, it is a real transition.  I am looking at this time as a chance for new opportunities and new friendships.  Also being confident that I will find my groove in this new stage but that it will take time.

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Hello Mornings

10495693_4526559258592_4295991574255697725_oIt is quiet and the kids are in bed, the house is clean and “Friday Night Lights” is waiting for me on Netflix.  In the season of motherhood I have been in for the last 11 years I would cherish my time at night.  I even thought I deserved it.  But what was meant to be just 1 show and a decent bedtime turned into more episodes and falling asleep on the couch.  Can anyone relate?

Then the morning time would come around and I would hear my kids in the hallway and want to crawl back in bed.  When they are really little I had no chose to get up, feed, and change them. Continue reading

5 Tips to Making Eating Dinner as a Family a Priority

family dinners

Food is a big part of my job as a mom. They want food all the time and it is my job to make sure it is there. I am convinced that in this day and age of the internet we have
made dinner time way too complicated. Remember when people used cookbooks and not Pinterest to choose new recipes. These days we are bombarded with so much info organic, Gluten free, healthy, crock pot, quick meals to name a few. Not to mention our schedules which are way too overbooked which makes meal time a huge time crunch.

But think about it we have to feed our families every day not just once but 3 times. It is a job of motherhood we can’t just decided to quit. You can take days, weeks, even months off of cleaning the bathtub or making beds but the need to make meals is not going to go away.

So just accept it and let’s work together to make this a priority. We all are at different levels with meal planning and dinner time. I was blessed to grow up in a home where dinner as a family was a priority. My mom cooked dinner and we ate together. I know this is not everyone’s experience so I am hoping to help you.

So here are my tips to get you started.

1. Start small. Pick 1 day a week that you can make dinner and eat together. Choose a night that you don’t have a sports event or a meeting and you have the time to make dinner.

2. Make something you know your family likes. Keep it simple something like rotisserie chicken from Costco, grapes, steamed broccoli and french bread.

3. Sit at the table with the TV off.

4. Don’t expect dinner to be this sweet quiet event.  Dinner at our house is crazy.  There is a lot of training going on.  In fact there has been a time that Spiderman showed up at dinner time.  There have been some great conversations and some really funny times too.

5.  Ask friends for favorite family recipes.  I have used Facebook for getting new recipes so much.  Check out my Menu Planning Monday posts.

Time together as a family is so important to me.  I believe that dinner time is a way to keep our families connected.  My goal is to create a place were my kids feel safe and have a play to belong.  In a world were there is so much uncertainty I want my family to be able to count on family dinners.  The task can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be.  Join the community on my Facebook page to be encouraged in your journey to make family dinners part of your day.

 

Menu planning Monday – July 7th

MPM-SummerWell this week’s menu plan has some cross overs from last week.  We had a great trip to Palm Springs.  We were able to hang out with family on Wednesday and Thursday so I didn’t have to make dinner.  Yippee!

I did however take lots of time to make homemade strawberry jam.  This is my second year canning jam.  We were able to have homemade jam all year.  The jam made great gifts too.  I will hopefully be writing up a detailed post about my jam making sessions.  So stay tuned.

Monday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches served on Hawaiian Rolls with fruit and carrots. I put the pork roasts in the crockpot around 10 pm and cooked them on low through the night.  It is really helpful to have the pork ready to be pulled in the morning.  This way I can add BBQ sauce and put it back in the crockpot.  Then it will be ready for dinner time.  One warning if you cook it over night open a window near your crockpot in the kitchen.  If you don’t you might wake up to an overwhelming spell of pulled pork.  Smells yummy but not when it is overpowering in the middle of the night.

Tuesday:  Chinese Chicken Salad.  This is pretty simple especially when you use rotisserie chicken from Costco. I buy a head of cabbage which is super cheap and shred it using my food processor.

Wednesday: BBQ Chicken Pizza. Homemade dough makes this extra delicious.  But if you don’t want to make homemade Trader Joe’s has a really good one.  Just be careful because once you buy it, you need to use it within a few days or it will go bad.

Thursday:  Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos.  I had this meal planned for last week.  But when I went to the store and chicken breast were $3 to $4 a pound.  I decided to wait for this week hoping chicken is on sale.

Friday: Egg burritos or Chick Fil A for free.  Have you heard about Cow Appreciation Day?  If you dress up like a cow you get a free meal.  Any meal on the menu!  Check out their website to see all the details and print out your cow costume. 280474_10150304554885572_5365533_oSaturday:  Eating Out

Sunday:  Pizza  We are packing to go camping for a week in Twin Lakes.

Coming next week… Menu Planning for Camping. 

Head on over to OrgJunkie for some other menu planning ideas.

Menu Planning Monday – June 30

MPM-SummerThis week I have a little break from the preparation of regular meals.  My husband and I are going to Palm Spring for 3 days and 2 nights to celebrate our 13th anniversary.

Pantry Fillers: This week I tried a few recipes to fill my pantry a bit.

About a year ago or so I started making homemade granola.  I LOVE it with greek yogurt in the morning.  I have tried to make it before and it I wasn’t happy with it.  But this Alton Brown recipe for granola has worked great. I have used a variety of chopped nuts or dried fruit in this recipe.

I also made breakfast cookies I found on Money Saving Mom’s blog.  These were tasty and filling.  My little kids really enjoyed the cookies and I felt good about them eating them.  I think calling them a cookie helped. I made a double batch and froze some for a future camping trip.

Sandwich Bread This past year I have started making homemade bread regularly.  This is our favorite sandwich bread. You can find my favorite bread recipes here.

Sunday – French Toast  Again my kids love breakfast for dinner.  There are a few things I have done differently with french toast recently.  I started using homemade french bread.  I make it the day before, slice it and let it sit out over night.  Using older bread helps the toast to be less soggy.  This time I made french bread sliced it and put it in the freezer.  We will see how it turns out.  My husband is the breakfast king and so he found this recipe from Alton Brown that we really like.

Monday- Palm Springs Something yummy without children asking me to share it.

Tuesday-  Palm Springs

Wednesday-  My plan is to eat out after picking up our kids depending on when we get back from our trip.

Thursday- Pulled Pork, homemade mac and cheese, fruit, and smore bars for dessert. We are hosting friends who are missionaries in Ethiopia for dinner.  They are home for the summer and we are so excited to see them.

Friday (4th of July)  We are going to a BBQ so I am bringing Fruit Flag and homemade salsa and chips.

Saturday- BBQ Chicken Salad with homemade pretzel bread and fruit. In summer I am always looking for yummy salads I can make for dinner.  This one has been a big hit.  One of the keys to this salad is homemade buttermilk dressing.  You can grill up some chicken or use my favorite rotisserie chicken from Costco.

Sunday- Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos  This is a new recipe for me.  I have seen it on Pinterest for a long time and am ready to give it a try.  I will report back as to how it went.

This week I am again linking up with OrgJunkie and her Menu Planning Monday.  Head on over there and check our some other blogs with great menu plans.

 

 

 

 

Meal Planning Monday- June 23

MPM-SummerThere are few things in my motherhood journey that  have helped me more than meal planning.  It saves me so much time, money, and stress to plan ahead.  With a family of 6 (4 of them boys) we go through a lot of food around here.  When I plan my dinners it also helps me avoid the drive through trap.  You know what I am talking about, it is 12 o’clock you are driving home from running errands and you don’t want to have quesadillas, grilled cheese or mac and cheese with the kids AGAIN for lunch at home.  So you just drive thru where ever is cheap so you can get that soda (Dr Pepper in my case) and you won’t have to clean up the kitchen AGAIN.  You will however have to eventually clean out the van from the wrappers that your kids just happen to forget in the way back.

When I plan dinners I have leftovers for lunch which are way tastier, healthier, and cheaper than that drive thru.  So I am sharing my meal plan for this week.  Some of these are tried and true family favorites and some are new.  I was excited to find another blogger who hosts Meal Planning Monday with a link up party too.  So go check out it our at Orgjunkie.

My meal plan for this week.

Monday Pesto Pasta from The Pioneer Woman  This is a family favorite.  My kids ask for it for their birthday.  I usually add steamed broccoli and cut up chicken.  I use the rotisserie chicken from Costco.  I also omit the tomatoes it calls for.  I love pesto and the best part is that I was able to use my basil from my garden.  This past year when I had LOTS of basil I made a huge batch of pesto and froze it.  I learned then that you can use almonds and walnuts instead of pine nuts.  I really love pine nuts but don’t love the price. So yummy!

Tuesday- Egg Burritos (date night for Mommy and Daddy).  Whenever I make these I sort of feel like I am taking the easy road but my kids cheer.  They love them and eat them up.  I usually just scramble eggs, make bacon if I have some, cheese, and a little salsa or ketchup (gross my kids started that).  Each kiddo like a different mixture in their burrito so recently we started using colored toothpick to hold them together and identify whose burrito it was.  We also use the tortillas from Costco that have to be heated up in a skillet first.  They are amazing and so tasty.  Be warned you will never go back once you buy them.

Wednesday-  Tri-Color Orzo pasta salad.  This has become a staple in our house.  It is fresh, filling, and so tasty.  I also add rotisserie chicken to this to make it more hearty. This is a great pasta to take on the go. We have brought it camping, to the beach, or a baseball tailgate.  I serve it with fresh fruit and some homemade french bread.

Thursday- Chicken Chimichangas Another good recipe for using rotisserie chicken from Costco.

Friday- Baked Ziti Easiest meal of the week.  That is because I just had to pull it out of the freezer and pop it into the oven.  I have shared before my love for freezer meals.  So helpful on a day that we will be gone but home for dinner.

Saturday- Turkey Burgers with sweet potato fries My hubby makes these and they are so yummy.

Sunday- Enchilada Pasta  A few weeks ago I tried this new recipe.  Enchiladas have always been too much work for me.  This dish gives you the tastes without the work.  I also added rotisserie chicken to this as well.

Well there you go the plan for the week.  Do you have a plan?  I would love to hear your plan or how I could help you make a plan.  Have a great week!

 

 

Meal Planning Monday #2

Meal Planning Monday #2

Well, last week I had such a great response to my meal planning post I thought I would keep it up.  Many times during the week I looked back at my post to remember what I said I was making.  So here goes week two:

Monday: Potato Leek soup and homemade cheese bagels ( I made this tonight.  The soup wasn’t a big hit but the bagels were yummy!)

Tuesday: Meatball sandwiches with homemade hoagie rolls and steamed broccoli

Wednesday:  Big Thunder Railroad Barbecue at Disneyland

Thursday: Turkey burgers (My husband makes these I don’t even know what goes into them), sweet potato fries (still looking for a good recipe) and homemade pretzel buns.

Friday: Spaghetti with browned butter and mizithra cheese

Saturday: Tacos (frozen meat from last week)

Sunday: Butternut Squash soup (still deciding on this recipe too)

Feels good to have it planned and shopped for.  Happy Planning!