Monday, March 29, 2010

Daddy plays Mommy...

Today is Andy's first day to be "mom"... getting up, getting the two oldest ready, one to reading class, one to acting class... run his errand, pick up from reading, pick up from acting and grab lunch... bring them home then it's speech therapy for Drew and then a t-ball game. LOL

Typical day for me... not so much for him. Poor guy. I don't know if I should feel sorry for him or thankful that he's getting a taste of my days.

Mind you, this is, of course...

...without waking up early to make a "real" breakfast for the brood
...not putting Drew in any sort of clothing item that matched... I don't even think Drew made it out the door with his teeth brushed
...didn't take Drew's reading bag/binder to class with him (it's an afterthought for me to be prepared, I suppose)
... making sure the clothing item Josh was going to wear wasn't covered in food specks and such (I made him change)

More errands have to be run tonight... until my milk comes in, we supplement with formula (I'm not stupid)... and hopefully I can finish the few meals that I'd purchased meat for on Friday so that they're "ready" tonight to either eat OR freeze. :) We shall see.

I'll post more on the arrival of Mr. Benjamin Ryan soon. :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekend plans...

I believe my weekend plans have changed..... I'm in labor. :) So, don't look for me this weekend... I'm thinking I'll be in Labor & Delivery at Baylor Grapevine!

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fill It In Friday!

Friday Fill-Ins Meme Pictures, Images and Photos

I'm going to post early since I'll have a busy tomorrow.... :) Happy early Friday peeps!

1. The right word can mend a broken heart, make a bad day good, bridge a gap between enemies, in essence -- it can make all the difference in the world.
2. Let the dogs in from outside and shut the door quietly, please.
3. Up is a great album by Shania Twain -- ha ha! Betcha didn't think I'd go there did ya? Up is the opposite of down.
4. At the end of a long day, comfortably reclining in a chair is where you'll find me, since this baby seems to like riding in my ribs, I don't last long on my feet at all anymore.
5. Ooh! What is that on your plate? I think I need some!
6. It's blow-me-out-of-the-water-amazing to me that ANYONE thinks that ANYTHING run by the government is a good idea.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to welcoming Josh home from a long football practice, tomorrow my plans include an EARLY (too early) morning at the football field, dropping off the boys for an Easter egg hunt and lunch in their neighborhood and hopefully stopping by a consignment sale to check out the jogging strollers and Sunday, I want to go to church, but honestly, I need rest right now... sleep, rest... and staying off my feet. I'm thankful (so thankful) Gateway puts their sermons on the website so I can still have my spiritual tank filled without leaving my bed!!

I'm linked to: Friday Fill Ins

Thankful Thursdays!

It’s that time of week again! Time to list what you are thankful for. This week we are doing things that start with the letter “J.”

Happy Thursday!
  1. Jesus (my savior)
  2. Joshua (my son)
  3. Jalapenos (Hey, I'm Texan -- we love our jalapenos here!)
  4. Jelly Bellies (they're just fun and flavorful!)
  5. Jokes (because we ALL need a good laugh now and then)
  6. Jammies (I could LIVE in my flannel pj's when it's chilly out)
  7. Jumanji (because it's fun to say! Ha ha... seriously, it's a neat movie that I love watching over and over with the kids)
  8. Jack-o-Lanterns (because that means it's FALL, my favorite time of the year!)
  9. January (because that means that we've been blessed with another year together)
  10. Jogging (because that's going to be the way I get back in shape after this baby comes)
  11. Jailhouse Rock (because that's an AWESOME Evis song!)

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Midweek Muse - 22 Things

My friend Felecia just did a post on her blog from a blog post of Stacy Julian's. BUT, before you go check MY list out on the list of 22 things motherhood has taught me, create your own and THEN go back and see what everyone else has written. (NOW I can go back and read everyone else's)... ha ha
  1. I am a good person. I certainly am not always the best that I can be but I am my best for my children. I shouldn't try to be supermom and June Clever because neither of them are real. Everyone has their own faults/shortcomings so we need to be there for one another to help build each other up, not tear them down.
  2. Macaroni and cheese can be a meal.
  3. Faith is everything. When you have no foundation to base your life upon, how can you have a foundtation to BUILD your life upon -- and your children's too, for that matter.
  4. Children crave time over cleanliness, materials, money or electrical outlets. Children NEED, WANT and CRAVE your time and attention. Spending that time with them is far more therapeutic for them, you, their well being, self-worth than any book, blog, shiny counter, sparkly toilet, Wii game or reality show.
  5. Kids learn at an early age that carbs are king. However, it's not going to kill them if they really do want pancakes 3 times a week. Give them their own little bottle of syrup to pour on their pancakes -- they'll feel so grown up!
  6. What you WANT decreases when you become a mother because you base your WANTS on what your children NEED. Your life DOESN'T revolve around you any longer. You have to be the matriarch, counselor, psychologist, nurse, chef, taxi and thus your needs are secondary to providing for their needs.
  7. Sometimes, using the DVD player and a Disney movie OR the Wii OR your cell phone OR anything like that is an okay distraction to let you regain your sanity. You're not a bad person if you NEED a nap or have to take a 40 wink session to be able to function.
  8. It's okay to just take the escalator to the top and back down again for no apparent reason. It's not going to kill you to let the little guys ride it for fun. What's the hurry?
  9. Learning to get on the floor and to play again is a challenge for Type-A personalities. I struggle with this constantly.
  10. I'm not the best at documenting my journey down this road, but I certainly try.
  11. You're going to get scratches on your hardwood floors and nice furniture, crayons on your wall, markers on their faces, stamps on the carpet... WHO CARES?!
  12. Sometimes a hug and a character band aid can make *almost* anything better.
  13. You can learn a lot of things from a dog -- unconditional love and forgiveness -- apply these traits to your children too.
  14. Beware what you say because your kids are absorbing it even when they seem to have you completely tuned out... and they'll repeat it when you don't want them to. The older the get, the more they do this...and they're really nosey too!
  15. You're not doing your kids any favors by doing everything for them. All kids need to learn responsibility from age 2 up! It won't kill anyone to learn responsibility! Teach them to appreciate earning what they want.
  16. Hug them often. They grow up quick.
  17. I (and you) need time for us too. Being a mom is hard work that you don't get a paycheck for... and your only reward is to recharge outside your home from time to time and it's not selfish or a bad thing. It's a necessity. You're a better mom for it.
  18. Maintaining your friendships is extremely important so that you, as a mom, have a support group too.
  19. Blank paper, crayons, markers and old scrapbooking scissors are a great boredom buster that should be kept within arms reach for moments when you really want to get something done without interruption.
  20. You're not a bad person if you slept through your baby crying because you were exhausted. (I did this once and really just beat myself up over it.)
  21. Love the Lord with all your heart and let your children SEE YOU LIVING this by example -- they will emulate you.
  22. The faults you beat yourself up over, your children cannot see. SO STOP IT!

I'm linked to 15 Minutes and Stacy Julian.

Narrowing down the choices

We knew that by bringing in another couple feet into the household, there would be many changes coming. We also knew that it would be hard to have two car seats in one vehicle and then have easy access to the third row seating (for Josh). While it's not impossible, it's extremely inconvenient and frankly, I don't want him crawling over the seat repeatedly in cleats, with bags, etc. I want him to have a comfortable ride, just like the rest of us.

But while the whole idea of getting a new vehicle may be exciting for the rest of you, the fact remains that I LOVE MY CAR! I love that it's paid for. I love that I know it. I love that it's got the dark wood trim -- very stylish. I love my heated seats. I know its capabilities, turning radius, how close I can pull up before tagging something with the front bumper, and most definitely the kickin' stereo system (Bose)!

However, there were a few things I really WANTED in my car (a DVD player, for instance) but honestly, I think if I could have found someone to remove my second row bench and install two captain's chairs, I'd have been much more on board for that than of getting a new vehicle and five more years of payments. I love having a paid off car. It's liberating. It's smart. It's not going to happen, however. Sadly.

So, when thinking of what to "upgrade" to that will allow us to have 2nd row seating with easy access to the third row, MY first choice was another SUV like a Ford Expedition XL. However, those have V8 engines (read that as "gas guzzlers" for a 95% city driver). It just really doesn't make good sense at this point I fear since (as Andy says) gas will never go back down too far again. Filling up a 30 gallon tank to get crappy gas mileage with $4 and $5/gallon gas would put another big bite into the ole monthly budget.

Then what else do we look at? Why the minivan of course! (Barf!) I take Josh with me and we go look at and test drive the Toyota Sienna and the Chrysler Town and Country. I look online at the Hondy Odyssey, the Volkswagon... whatever it's called, the Dodge Caravan. I "build my own" on all of their websites and frankly, they're all pretty much the same. However, the Chrysler Town and Country really had some features that I really, really liked. (GASP!) Photobucket">

I liked that they have not one but TWO DVD players. Why is that a big deal? I don't know but it just is. Don't try to reason with a pregnant woman shopping for cars. You just can't! To me, it just makes sense since my kids are going to have a ten year span between them. I fear that Josh at 15 certainly wouldn't be interested in watching what a 5 year old would. Also available is SIRUS backseat tv which means they can watch the Cartoon Network, Disney and Nickelodian... two different shows on each TV! How cool is that? Photobucket">

And it has "mood lighting" for evening trips. It just looked neat to me. :)

Then there's also the game port so that the boys can play the Playstation on long trips. Again, not necessity but really neat. Photobucket

Also, they have an amazing nav system (trust me, I need a nav system). Oh, and the storage beneath the floor is AWESOME!

And see how the third row also rotates back so that you can use it for tailgating! VERY COOL! Photobucket">

I like the fact, too, that the third row can easily be moved for trips to the grocery store. Trust me, I need that!

So, Andy goes to the dealership yesterday and lays the groundwork for what we want. I get a call from the dealership today that they've located one that has a few "extras" that we didn't necessarily want but... we'll see if we wind up with it. One thing this has is the swivel seats (the second row seats swivel to face the third row). I can see how this would be helpful/fun for a long distance trip or something... maybe even eating lunch or something but, it's not a real "practical" thing for us that we really need. This option means that the 2nd row seats don't store in the floor like on the model we were looking at (and another $575 on the price tag). This is what they'd look like... WHEN they're swiveled back. Otherwise, they'd be turned around like normal and the table stowed away.

This one also comes with a towing package (and another $600 added to the price because of it). We may let it pass because adding in extras we don't need just adds to the bottom line but we'll see.

I have a mindset (and it's horrible to stereotype, I know) about all who drive minivans. (Sorry, ya'll, I just do.) But, I need to set those prejudices aside since I will now become one of you. I think that's karma in its finest form.

So, what do you think? Do I look like a "minivan mom?" Can I handle it? I guess we'll see.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Homeschooling curriculum

We didn't choose homeschooling, it kind of chose us. My husband, I don't think, was on board as much as I was because he knows that as a momma bear, I tend to be emotionally reactive with my children when it comes to outside interference rather than more analytically evaluative of challenging situations. However, I think that is what separates us from them. So, when the idea was planted in my brain, I prayed about it. I stressed about it. I feared it. I researched it. I searched out mentors and ideas and curriculum and on-line groups and co-ops and lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!

Initially, the one thing that was beyond overwhelming for me was choosing a curriculum. You want one that is the best. You want one that is going to turn your child into the next Einstein. You want one that isn't too challenging (so that they're not discouraged). You want one that isn't too easy (so that they're not bored.) You want one that isn't ridiculously expensive (ok, well, maybe **I** don't want to buy one that is ridiculously expensive, for others, it may be an option--it's NOT for me!) You want one that will give them opportunities that they wouldn't necessarily be afforded in the public school system. And, since we're talking curriculum -- I'll tell you, it is very hard to choose.

I went to my first home school book fair the summer after I began homeschooling. So, I felt like I was somewhat of an experienced homeschooler. Everyone is a good salesman at home school book fairs. I understand that it's their job to be convincing, but it is overwhelming and discouraging at the same time. Everyone's program is the best. ...the most thorough. ...the most complete. ...the most intense. ...the most hands-on. The people on the sales floor learn to use lots and lots of adjectives that moms like me really like to hear which makes it even all the more difficult to choose. Seriously, it was overwhelming -- exponentially squared!

However, with that understanding, that first year we did wind up settling into one of the "big names" in the homeschooling world -- Abeka. You will probably laugh to know how I chose that path for us. In all honesty, it was because that program was the most plentiful at my initial source of hands-on research -- Half Priced Books. Yep, I started my search for curriculum at Half Priced Books. I would put my purse down and pull out all kinds of books and sit on the floor and read through them for an hour or so at a time. It was informative, scary, challenging, and mind boggling but good for me because a) I knew I was getting a better deal than buying new; b) there was no home school book fair within any reasonable time frame for me to get a real "hands on" look at curriculum since we started homeschooling 3 months into the "typical" school year (I pulled him out in November of his 3rd grade year); and c) I knew that with "big name" products, I couldn't screw him up (too badly!) Ha ha! How's that for brutal honesty?

So, we started out our homeschooling "career" with Abeka. At the end of that first year, I found that there were some aspects of the Abeka program that worked well for us, and, frankly, others didn't. I knew there were certain subjects that we needed to find alternative programs for the future year(s) because the Abeka version just didn't work for Josh. Which is why I'm now not a "one box fits all" kind of homeschooler. We tend to be more eclectic in our approach now. However, I TRULY believe starting out that it's a GREAT way to go because it takes ALL of the thought out of it and lets you focus on your children than the plethora of curriculum choices out there. I think what would be best for most anyone is to figure out what will work best for their student and then tailor your program to their needs, wants and strengths rather than to what's included in a "kit." However, buy having a kit, you can easily learn what their strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes ARE so there are definite benefits to trying one out from the get go.

So, now as we are into another year of homeschooling, we are finding new challenges and I'm again, on the hunt for curriculum. I am not of the mindset to "fix what ain't broke" so for what is working for us, I will continue to utilize that but I think one thing we homeschoolers do far too often is second guess ourselves. Is there really something better out there? I'm sure there may be BUT if you're finding what's working for YOUR child, WHO CARES?!

As the summer starts to approach, the book fair fliers are coming out... the curriculum guides and magazines are being sent out for eager eyes to seek out new adventures. For us, this is our path thus far

Language Arts: we have used Abeka for the last 2 years and I'm quite happy with their approach. They are heavy in grammar, probably not as much in writing as I'd like so I may supplement with a writing program only after looking at what the 5th grade program would contain.

Spelling: We are going to stick with Spelling Power. I find that it's a good fit for Josh. The words definitely are not as difficult as the ones in the Abeka program and since spelling is not one of his strengths, this is one of those areas I've needed to tailor to his needs.

Math: Again, Abeka. I love the spiral approach because whatever we don't want to do, we simply omit from the day's lesson. However, there's ALWAYS more practice to keep skills sharp and fresh. I like the books are colorful, too.

Reading/History/Geography: Sonlight, hands down. We just began our journey with Sonlight and I am in love with the books we've been reading. They're interesting, informative, the discussions are good and Josh is really enjoying them. We won't have read ALL of the books for our Core but that is okay. It is a VERY reading intensive program and I think that is a GOOD thing.

Science: This is where I will be researching this year. We just haven't found a good fit for science yet. I have faith we will. Abeka was good the first year but only when we supplemented and went deeper into the topics covered with Lapbooks, library books, internet research and such. Otherwise, the glazing over topics wasn't really my cup of tea. Besides, I have a kid that LOVES hands-on activities. I need to find something that really forces him to THINK!

Foreign Language: We have purchased the Rosetta Stone Spanish program but have yet to use it (bad mommy)

Bible: I'm thinking we will use one of the interactive, on-line resources this coming year from Switched on Schoolhouse (Alpha Omega). I'd like there to be a few aspects of our day that are not dependent upon my time and guidance and that he can do on his own.

Extra curricular Activities: Josh takes sculpture and acting at a "school" for homeschoolers not too far away. I anticipate him staying with that program. He is involved in sports with the city's rec league. We have several art books for sketching/drawing and will continue that path -- I really like the Atelier DVDs but we didn't get through as many as I'd liked to have this year (bummer). He also takes guitar lessons once a week at a local music store so I'm sure his "program" at home is well-rounded. While I'd LOVE to find a co-op to join, I just don't see that working for us because I don't know HOW to volunteer with a co-op having a new born, keep a full program at home and also maintain some "me" time.

So, the search continues. :) I will keep you posted on how we progress with our decisions for next year.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Overheard in my car...

After leaving ASI Gymnastics from their fun evening. Drew's friend, Evan, was there too.

Josh: "Mom, does Evan have a speech impediment?"

Drew: "No, but he has 2 cats."

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday new Pictures, Images and Photos

I'm excited to know that I can actually have a plan this week. The last two weeks have been so ridiculously unstable with Spring Break and the whole OAMC thing, sports practices, etc. that I knew it'd be ridiculous for me to even try! But we have a plan this week -- woo hoo! Recipes marked with ** follow below the plan. Enjoy!

B: sausage, biscuits and gravy
L: soup/sandwiches at home
D: Fettuccini Carbonera** and foccacia bread (carb overload!)

B: Waffles and bacon
D: Stuffed Shells Florentine**

B: cereal, juice, toast
L: leftovers
D: Cheese enchiladas**

B: taquitoes (eggs, cheese, tater tots and salsa in flour tortilias)
L: Subway
D: Sausage, cornbread, pinto beans

B: oatmeal, fruit
L: leftovers

B: eggs, toast, fruit
L: lunch w/Mimi and Pop after an egg hunt for their HOA
D: something on the grill


****I'm leaving Saturday and Sunday both fairly flexible since we're not sure what our plans are yet (it all depends on this bizarre Texas weather)

Fettuccini Carbonera

1/4 c. butter
1 lb fettucini
4 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the kind in the plastic jar with the green lid)
1/2 c. whipped cream
1/4 c. parsley
8 oz bacon


Let the butter, eggs and cream stand at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Cook bacon until brown, drain and crumble. Heat serving dish in the oven at 250 degrees about 10 minutes (I actually use a huge metal stock pot to mix it in and so I put THAT in the oven instead of a typical "ceramic or glass serving dish." At the same time, cook the fettuccini in water for 15 minutes. Beat the eggs adn cream just until blended. When pasta is tender but just slightly firm, drain in collander. Toss pasta and butter in heated serving dish. Then pour in egg mixture and toss to coat. Add bacon, cheese and parsley and again, mix until well coated. I find using a pasta serving spoon to mix this works best. Serve immediately. It's DELICIOUS! We NEVER have any left over!

Stuffed Shells Florentine
(this is mostly adapted from the Pampered Chef's Main Dishes recipe book)

box uncooked jumbo pasta shells (I use the whole box since I find many do break and/or tear so to specify a certain number is silly)
15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
2 cups Italian cheese blend, divided
1 1/2 cups half-and-half, divided
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1 large jar of Prego Fresh Mushroom spaghetti sauce (LARGE jar)

Preheat oven to 350. Cook shells according to package directions; drain. Next, I use my stand up mixer for the following: In a large bowl combine the ricotta cheese, spinach, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded Italian cheese blend, 1/2 cup of the half and half, 1/4 cup of the fresh Parmesan cheese, garlic and dried herbs. mix well and set aside. In a smaller bowl, mix the spaghetti sauce with the remaining half and half (sometimes, I even add MORE! GASP -- makes it SO creamy) until blended. Pour about 1/2 into the bottom of your baking dish. Then using a small scoop, fill each shell with the cheese mixture and set into the baking dish. Once all the space is full, pour the remaining sauce over the shells and then sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover, bake 40 minutes. Remove the lid and sprinkle with the remaining Italian cheese blend shreds and cook about 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and let stand about 10 minutes. DELICIOUS

Cheese Enchiladas
1 package of corn tortilias
veggie oil
1 box of Velveeta cheese (I use 2%)
1-2 large onions, diced and sauteed
1-2 # hamburger meat, browned
1 package of Williams chili mix (it's in a silver package with all the gravy mixes)
1-2 cans of diced tomatoes

Tools needed: tongs, 9x13 baking dish, frying pan, sautee pan

Dice and saute onion in a Tbsp or two of oil. Set aside. Cut the cheese (no pun intended) into 1/2" pieces and then cut that piece into thirds making little strips of cheese. To prepare the corn tortilias for rolling, heat up some veggie oil over medium heat in a shallow frying pan. Insert one tortilia and make sure that it is fully submerged. You want it to be saturated but not "cook". It will start to sizzle -- remove it immediately. I place mine into a glass pie pan. Set aside to cool. Begin cooking the hamburger meat. Once it has been drained, add the diced tomatoes, about 1/4 cup of water and the chili seasoning mix. Simmer for a few minutes. Now comes the assembly.

To assemble your enchiladas you'll take your plate/tray of prepared corn tortilias and insert two of the cheese strips in the center. Spoon in as much of the onion as you'd like and then roll it up. Place it lengthwise in your baking dish. Once you've filled all the space in your baking dish, pour the chili mixture over top. Cover with foil. Bake at 350-375 for about 30 minutes.

Looking for more menu planning ideas? Check out where I'm linked: Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday

Weekend wrap-up

Even though we had plans to do several things this weekend, I still made good on my attempt for Once A Month Cooking.

Friday started out with a birthday party for Drew's best friend's little brother. He turned 4 and the party was held at an indoor jump place. Drew's favorite! He had a great time. At one point, once they'd open the place up to more than just the party attendants, it became a little hectic since some of the older boys there were unsupervised (and bullies) Drew got hurt and Josh went into protector mode and saved the day. It was kind of scary. The way the one boy knocked him off, his head was wedged and he couldn't free himself. Kinda scary! Thank God for Josh!

After the party, we had a play date with Evan at the house for a couple of hours. The play date was actually held -- for the most part -- completely outside. I was inside for the vast majority of it (cooking) but did go outside to check. ALL the kids were out playing in the neighborhood so I was totally fine with them all just going crazy in the cul de sac.

After that, Drew had t-ball practice. It was okay except after about 20 minutes there. I had to pee. There wasn't a bathroom in sight. UGH! I toughed it out but the SECOND it was time to go, I scooped him up and we RAN HOME! Joshua spent most of his time in the car with me taking silly pictures of himself in the rear view mirror of the passenger seat. He cracks me up.

Saturday -- the first day of spring -- brought us the freak snowstorm. It was insane! I still took the boys to the gymnastics place for the pajama party and when I went to pick them up at 10:30 p.m., Drew just kept telling me how much fun it was. We went by to pick up Andy (he was right there so I got to play chauffeur for him too -- why waste gas?) and then we all went home. I basically walked in, said good night to the boys and lapsed into a coma. I awoke about 3:30 a.m. to the sound of logs being sawed. I think I probably beat Andy to a pulp so much that he was snipping at me. I got my pillow and just went up to the baby's room and slept peacefully from 6am to 10am. LOL. I had to make up for the lost sleep somehow and boy did I! One thing I will say -- I don't like sleeping much past 8am. You feel like you just lose your entire day. That's not cool man!

So, today, Sunday, we were under a wind advisory and they weren't kidding! The temperature was 44 but with the wind chill it was a mere 30 degrees. I was sure that Josh's football practice would have been canceled but oh no, it was not. 2pm we show up and only FOUR OTHER BOYS are there! It gets called at 2:25 and we head home. The remainder of the day before and after the brief football practice, I kept cooking but by now, this mama is officially tired! As my Meme would put it (my mom's mom), I have a serious case of the T.B. Tired Butt! Don't grandmas just have a way with words?

And, so without further adieu, this weekend was, as you know, my first attempt at OAMC (Once A Month Cooking). However, I didn't cook just once -- I cooked a little bit all weekend long. I've already touched on what I've done but here it is in a nutshell

3 turkey-beef meatloaves
1 pot roast with veggies for the slow cooker
2 servings of spaghetti sauce
1 tater tot casserole
2 servings of taco meat
1 pot roast marinated Italian style for shredded sandwiches
2 servings of Swedish meatballs
1 serving of meatball sub meatballs
2 servings of BBQ chicken
2 servings of chicken quesadilias (this is all pantry food, no cooking but it's assembled!)
2 servings of marinated chicken for fajitas
2 servings of marinated balsamic chicken breasts (4 ea)
1 serving of marinated chicken breasts (4)
1 serving of Italian marinated chicken breasts (4)
1 serving of Picaunte chicken
3 servings of cranberry/apple pork loin

and I've prepared the SAUCE ONLY for my lasagna. I'm just too pooped to do anything else tonight! Couple that with the fact that my little man was running 101.5 30 minutes after I gave him motrin... we're going to have a little bug in the house apparently. Tomorrow will prove to be an unfruitful day as well if I've got a little man at home. Poor guy!

Tomorrow I intend to finish up what I DIDN'T buy at Wal-Mart (ricotta cheese was in the back of the store and I was just DONE being there so I didn't even bother to go back and get it-again, another example of why your grocery list needs to be ORGANIZED!) and finish up everything!

Finishing up tomorrow:

1 serving beef stroganoff
2 servings cheeseburger macaroni
8 hamburger patties
1 serving sloppy joes
1 tetrazzini
1 serving chicken a la king
1 grandma's chicken and rice bake
1 serving chicken tetrazzini
1 servings of salisbury steak
2 pans of lasagna

I'm still trying to find the best way to list my recipes. I'm wondering if posting them online to and then linking back to here would be the best method.... Hmmm... I may need to think about that. Any suggestions?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday and OAMC update

I *finally* made it to Wal-Mart (which is always a HUUUGE mistake a) on a weekend day and b) when a "weather system" is moving in). I think everyone and their dog was there. It was a MADHOUSE! However, progress was made! I *almost* got everything on my list (I didn't get EVERYTHING because I was TIRED!) I don't have much left, however.

I am so VERY thankful that my wonderful sidekick, Josh, wanted to go with me to push the second buggy so that we could keep the hot stuff hot and the cold stuff cold and the canned goods on the bottom!

I will say that it was quite odd to have to shop for items such as diaper creme, Lanisoh, nursing pads, baby wash and diapers. So, those items definitely added to the total at the check-out but you have to start stocking up somewhere. I DID use my coupons, however. From now on, I'll definitely start watching the CVS sales and such since I have subscribed to so many fantastic blogs, like Keli's where she talks about the awesome deals she gets! I need to pick her brain to learn to shop like that! I'm so jealous! Ha ha!

Felecia and Mary (love you ladies!) have given me some FANTASTIC advice on the OAMC front and I have heeded their advice whole-heartedly! First off, since this baby seems to want to ride on my sciatic nerve, it's literally impossible for me to stay on my feet for an extended period of time so I, by necessity, had to break the cooking session into multiple ones (thanks for that idea Felecia!)

Also, since I didn't go to Wal-Mart until TODAY, I obviously couldn't have done a tremendous amount since I really only had the meat and none of the accompaniments for the entrees. And, although all the books say NOT to shop and cook in the same day -- I just had to be a rebel. You know me.

However, after my large Costco run and my even larger Wal-Mart run, I have begun to make masterpieces from the madness! The past two days have proved quite fruitful. I have made:

3 beef/turkey meatloaves
2 servings Swedish meatballs
1 serving meatball sub
2 servings spaghetti sauce
2 servings taco meats
2 servings balsamic marinade chicken breasts
1 Italian pot roast marinade
1 pot roast w/veggies
1 tater tot casserole

I've started working on making 3 pans of lasagna. I was going to do some of the "lazy lasagnas" I've read about in most all the books but honestly, I just don't want to skimp on my lasagna. I love my lasagna and frankly, it's worth the trouble and time. The taste is unsurpassed, it feels and tastes gourmet/unprocessed and it is just delicious (in my humble opinion). It will SO be worth it in the end! So, the meat is cooked for that. I just need to make the rest of the sauce to accompany it and then finish the assembly.

I still have several chicken meals to prepare and I think I will marinade more breasts since we all love grilled chicken and it's a quick and easy meal (and since I have plenty from my meat load-up at Costco.) But, like I said, that will all be saved/reserved for tomorrow as, for now, I'm tired.

I think I'm a little dehydrated too. I started having Braxton Hicks contractions ... have actually been having them fairly regularly each evening so I know all this prep work is a GOOD thing! :)

One lesson learned so far is that... as I made my grocery list this time in such a stupid rush because I added no only the "stuff" for my meals for the freezer but also this coming week's worth of meals. So, honestly, my grocery list was a FREAKIN DISASTER which caused me SO much extra time in the grocery store. HAVE AN ORGANIZED LIST! That is SO important. If I'd just used the one I'd prepared on the computer in Excel, it would have gone SO much faster but since I was preparing my list in my bedroom on my bed leaning back on my tower of pillows, I didn't have access to the file at that time. However, with this major lesson learned, I will never ever not have an organized grocery list again.

But, like I said, since I shopped for the upcoming week, I'm excited to actually have a "Menu Plan Monday" again to post since I know a huge bulk of this cooking is out of the way.... This will enable me to be able to focus on the future AND the present as far as meal prep.

And, as promised, once I'm totally finished with this session, all of the recipes I used will be posted on the OAMC page on my blog! I want everyone to have access to these recipes!

One of my childhood friends, Gene, stopped by tonight with his son, Jacob. I've known Gene since I was in the 6th grade (that's a long time). He recently was transferred from Minot AFB in North Dakota to the one in Norman, OK so he's MUCH closer and it's SO nice to see him so often. He's a bachelor. He eats out -- a lot. Lets say probably TOO MUCH! :) He was watching me put things together and was intrigued. I think I may have a bachelor convert! He wants to buy all the stuff and have me do some individual portions for him rather than the big family sized ones that I make. Easy, easy, easy when you're doing all the leg work in advance!

I'm actually enjoying a couple of hours of silence (though I'm seriously getting very very sleepy. 10pm is my bedtime!) The boys went to a pajama party at ASI gymnastics. It started at 7. They're going to run themselves ragged and eat pizza and sleep great tonight. I dropped Andy off to have some "guy time" with a responsible driver (namely, me!) I'll be picking him up about 10:30 and then the boys thereafter. I'll let him tuck them in and I'll tuck myself in.

Yeah, I'm Up

In Texas, we have a saying that if you don't like the weather, just give it some time. Point in case --- Friday it was near 80 degrees (my car thermostat read the outdoor ambient temperature at 78) and today we are expecting snow. SNOW?! What the heck man!

Typically, when systems such as these move through -- you know the whole cool-air-mass-meets-warm-air-mass -- you get our beloved thunderstorms. Oh the beloved Texas thunderstorms. Lightning that can penetrate even the thickest room darkening curtains and thunder that makes windows rattle throughout your entire home and sends your chicken dogs running for covers. Oh yes, at precisely 3:23 a.m. when the first signs of rumbles in the distance, Sadie (who usually sleeps in a accumulation of blankets placed on a fluffy dog bed that is then placed on a rocking glider/recliner in my room) jumped from the chair and proceeded to pace around the bed. I know this because I am a) a light sleeper and b) her toenails aren't quiet on the floors. I try, begrudgingly, to urge her back into the confines of her blanket party verbally.

She's not having any part of it. Again, she proceeds to pace around the floor. "Sadie, lay down," I sternly whisper. She walks to the doors to the bathroom. Do I have an incredibly trained dog that prefers the loo to the wild outdoors? Of course not, when she's afraid, she chooses to retreat to the confines of my windowless walk-in-closet. I pull down my large, red fleece robe and toss it on the floor. She instantly makes a "bed" out of it. I pull the doors two and figure, as long as I'm up... do as pregnant women do... and utilize the facilities. I go back to bed and lay there.

And lay there.

And lay there.

And the thunder gets more intense. The rain gets even heavier. The lightning increases in frequency.

And now, chicken dog numero dos is trying to crawl on Andy's head. What is so appealing about his head when this dog is afraid is BEYOND ME! I grab her and in my most aggressive whisper say, "You need to lay down and stop being stupid." I say this because I know she is far superior in intelligence and understand English perfectly. How do I know this? She lays down immediately right where I place her and doesn't move -- UNTIL the next clap of thunder. At that point, she's back under the covers laying by my knees.

So, there you have it. The fun, untold story of why thunderstorms suck for me when they occur anytime the "average bear" is supposed to be hibernating. And, most importantly, why I've now been awake since 3:30 a.m.

I already can feel a nap coming on today. I hope the snow holds off so that I can finish my shopping trip. Oh yeah, maybe I should post about my mini session for OAMC. Naah. I'll go on Facebook and play some mindless games and drink my sugar free, milk chocolate Carnation Instant Breakfast. I think "bean" is hungry.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fill It In Friday!

Friday Fill-Ins Meme Pictures, Images and Photos we go!

1. Today I will be cooking, cooking and more cooking after I take the boys and two neighbors to a birthday party at a jump place for a couple of hours.
2. When faced with adversity or difficult situations, some people ask WHY and I say why not?
3. What do you think of the state of our economy, the fact that our President wants to move forward with his own agenda leaving our children's children's children to foot the bill for years to come, the fact that our country is running so ridiculously far in the red that if it were a corporation -- they'd be OUT OF BUSINESS, the fact that the unemployment rate is holding steady at TEN PERCENT but government jobs are still for hire, that people working the census are making a ridiculous amount of money... shall I continue? Seriously, we're in trouble as a country.
4. At some location not near me, apparently it's free Pastry Day til 1030 Friday!
5. People say that what we're all seeking is acceptance.
6. The image I cherish most is not a singular image, but rather a collection of moments with my family and children over the last 37 years.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to taking Drew to t-ball practice at 5:30 and then continuing with my cooking marathon (and not really "looking forward" to it so much as it's a necessity), tomorrow my plans include hoping my husband will go to IKEA to get the entertainment center shelving so we can finish the playroom out and then that evening taking both my boys to ASI Gymnastics for their Saturday night pajama party from 7-11 (hope it still happens with the winter storm blowing through) and then -- you guessed it -- cooking some more and Sunday, I want to relax but I'm sure I'll be tying up any loose ends in the kitchen such as making baking mixes, hoping to stay warm and seeing if Drew has any t-ball practice (doubt it with the weather system moving in)!

I'm linked to: Friday Fill Ins

Thursday, March 18, 2010

$500 Visa Gift Cards!

One of the blogs I subscribe to, Secret Agent Josaphine, is also a reviewer of products. She recently test drove the Lincoln MKT and just for reading her review and leaving some love (aka comments), you can be entered to win a $500 Visa gift card! How cool is that? Here's the link to her review. CLICK HERE


Thankful Thursdays!

It’s that time of week again! Time to list what you are thankful for.

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, think of things you are thankful for that are green!!

Happy Thursday!

I'm thankful for the smell of freshly cut grass...
... that my 5 year old loves and craves broccoli
... for Andy's beautiful green eyes
... for Granny Smith apples because they go so deliciously with my favorite salad
... Extra gum... it's NEON green!
... Guacamole! (YUM)
... CASHOLA... well, the blessing that we have the opportunity to spend it wisely when we need to
... Limes in my water
... does the OUTSIDE of watermelons count even if the inside ISN'T green? hee hee hee
... Yummy green vegetables (Boston bibb, Romaine, and green leaf lettuces, cucumbers, celery)
... and, of course, the symbol for being "green" -- reduce, reuse, recycle

I'm linked to: The Mommy Files - Thankful Thursday

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

First 2 week appointment!

I'm in the homeward stretch! I just started my 2-week appointments. Drew went with me today.

I got there, signed in at the desk and then Drew and I started working on his Lego fighter "thing" that he brought to occupy his time.

In about five minutes, my name was called. We went to the other waiting room. After dropping off my purse, drink, child, and such I was weighed. Surprisingly, I didn't gain any weight in 2 weeks. I text Andy and he wonders if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I say, if it were a concern, the doc would have brought it up. He didn't so it's not. My "thing" is that a) I CAN'T eat much because I just get full so fast. Last night we ordered pizza -- I got my favorite, BBQ chicken with spinach from Pizza Hut. I ate the two smallest pieces in the box and I was STUFFED. There's just no room for big meals and weight gain. There's no room!

They checked my blood pressure -- 96 over 59 or something like that -- in other words, "normal." And she asked how the baby was moving and I said, "Like a kung fu fighter!" She leaves and then in comes Dr. Cowen. We talk for a few, he measures my stomach, listens to the heart rate and said that everything looks good. He'll see me again in two weeks and at that time we'll talk delivery. (YEA!) D-day is actually IN MY SIGHTS now! He also said that he didn't think THIS baby would be as big as Drew was (THANK GOD!!!) Drew was nearly 10 pounds and was one hell of a recovery! He advises me to pre-register with the hospital and says he'll see me soon.

Since my doc's office is at the hospital where I will deliver, Drew and I did a little "tour" and saw the only little person in the nursery. Drew had LOTS of questions and then I realized, I hadn't signed him up for a sibling class (duh) so I have just a) preregistered myself for the hospital and b) registered Drew for his sibling class on April 10th.

NOW, it feels like it's really going to happen! So much to do -- so little time!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Once A Month Cooking - Ponderables

And so I just dropped a ton of money at Costco. Should I have shopped the sales and got a great deal on all the meat, absolutely. But, at this junction in my life/pregnancy/week, I opted for convenience and I'm sure I paid a little more for it. Am I okay with it this go round? Absolutely. Will I do it like this always? Of course not. I'm cheap, remember?

In one of the books, I recall reading that it is okay to refreeze meat as long as it's in a marinade or something. Not too sure about that but it's got me to thinking..... because here's my thought:

Say you have your monthly plan of what you want to make for 30 days. You've spent the previous 30 days shopping for this menu. If you find a great deal on meat, you should definitely take advantage of it. However, chances are, you'll be buying it fresh, freezing it, then thawing it to prepare the menu, then cooking it, then freezing it again. Just makes me wonder how is the best way to stay EFFICIENT with your time/cooking/shopping/freezer space when having to do that.

However, I do see now how it is important to take advantage of the weekly sales and plan your menu accordingly. This may mean that you alter your 30 day menu some... or a lot. So, would it be more advantageous to then take the Wednesday sale fliers and plan a week's menu based on that, purchase, prepare and freeze. ???

I don't know. I'm starting to wonder, however... the best way to attack the plan. Pearls anyone?

Book reviews for OAMC

Since purchasing several books for my OAMC endeavor I will give you the highlights for the books in case you are interested in purchasing them for yourself.

1) Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer (by Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell and Bonnie Garcia) This book really is nothing more than a book of recipes that freeze well. It doesn't really give you a "plan" or a "menu" to work from. It does give you an original recipe and then a x3, x6 and x9 version of the ingredient list so that helps if you make it, love it and want to duplicate it for your cooking session.

However, in doing a glance through of many of the recipes, they seem rather labor intensive which really isn't what I want when doing this for round one so the recipes in this book -- although I have sticky notes out of the top for about 45 of them I want to try, I think will be better suited for round 2 of my cooking session. I may change my mind, we'll have to see.

2) Once A Month Cooking (by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg) This book has several 2-week menus and two 1-month menus. In a nutshell, they show you a two-week calendar and each date box is filled in with an entree. Next, you find a shopping list for everything needed to make the entrees for those two weeks. Thereafter, each entree has its own page following the shopping list with the recipe.

The only thing I see as being a potential problem is if your family doesn't like a portion of what is on that particular menu. If you still want to create SOME of the items on that menu plan, but not all of them, the shopping list is pretty much worthless. So, if that's the case (which it will be for me for every one of their menu plans), I'll be creating my own shopping list for the recipes that I want to utilize from this book.

I do like, however that it has the grocery list and the amount and type of FREEZER containers you'll need. It also gives you a break down of what to do the day before your cooking day, a break down of what you should do before assembling the dishes, and then the order in which you should assemble the dishes for the greatest time efficiency. I think that could prove to be a HUUUUUGE help even IF you don't make everything on the list.

3) Frozen Assets - Cook for a Day Eat for a Month (by Deborah Taylor-Hough) One thing that I didn't like right off the bat from this book is that it really wants you to completely COOK everything and then thaw and reheat to serve it. Simply stated, I don't want to do that. I don't MIND having something that needs to be cook, it's the PREP time that I'm trying to save myself of.

Also, the author typically will take a handful of meals and double and triple up cooking them which means that you're eating the same thing in a specified time-frame. And, like I've said before, I like a LOT of variety in my meals and prefer to not have the same thing over a 20-30 day period. Call me finicky -- it's just how I am. Unfortunately for some future wife, it's also how I'm raising my boys. I can actually feel good about the variety in their diet and I never hear them whine when they say, "We're having _____ AGAIN??" That phrase is never muttered in this house because I not only enjoy cooking, but I also want to be able to give them the variety in their diet that they desire and that I crave.

This book does give a lot of good information, however with planning, tips and advice.

However, apart from my not wanting to eat the same MEAL, it does give you the option to make components of that meal that can be utilized in SEVERAL meals. For instance, it may be quite nice to make ONE huge pot of spaghetti sauce that will work for pasta, lasagnas, baked ziti AND meatball sandwiches. I can totally see how making things like that WOULD be a blessing and she easily shows you how.

Along the same lines, the author also provides mixtures, such as her ground beef mixture that she uses for meatballs, salisbury steak, sweet-sour meatballs, and meatball sandwiches. You just have to find what all you want to use it on.

However, for someone like me, it may prove just as effective to purchase a few jars of Prego Fresh Mushroom (my favorite) and use that whenever you need spaghetti sauce and then there is NO prep time for the sauce at all. It's all about what you're willing to pay for and ultimately, what your time is worth. Personally, my time is WORTH more than making spaghetti sauce from scratch. So, if we're having spaghetti, the prep time (for me) will be saved in browning the meat and having that ready to put in a pan WITH a jar of my favorite sauce and a can or two of mushrooms. BUT, I'm not going to totally knock this until I try it because -- frankly -- her bulk spaghetti sauce does sound good and I'm game for anything once. As such, I may make a pan or two of her Baked Ziti and Lazy Lasagna. Just to see how it all turns out. I know my lasagna takes about 4 hours to make from scratch and it's a WHIPPING that I only do for special occasions. I'll try anything that is a "regular" on our menu another way, at least once!

ALSO, another aspect of this book that I have discovered that I really don't like is that they have the SAME recipes repeated all over in the book multiple times. I GET IT, you make Bulk Spaghetti Sauce -- WHO CARES. Why not add something else in and just refer back to a particular page number? I don't understand this logic. Her editor must have been a man.


Once A Month Cooking - Part C


Now that you have your list of regular meals and your grocery list for those meals, you need to go through and PLAN what you're going to prepare for your freezer for the next _____ days. You could work up a 1-week, 2-week, 4-week or be adventurous like me and prepare to do a SIX WEEK PLAN!

**I will share my personal fear, anxiety and experience from this part of planning. My hangup on doing this was that I took a look at my actual calendar and then went, "Are you freakin' kidding me?" However, what I needed to realize was that I'm going to be preparing meals for my FREEZER and NOT for my calendar!

From whatever events are on my calendar, I can pick and choose what will be the quickest entree to cook that evening -- not look at the calendar and call for pizza delivery! Initially, I was looking at my calendar with eyes saying, "On this night, how in the world will I make a dinner having one son at football practice from 5:45 - 7:45 and another at t-ball practice from 5-6:30?" Instead, I should be thinking, I'm going to have several things in the freezer that I can pull and stick right in the slow cooker. Therefore, dinner will be ready at 6:45 for Drew and then, still be warm for Josh when he gets in from football practice. I was already denial, creating mountains out of molehills and stressing out just looking at the calendar when what I needed to do was simply focus on what I'm putting in my freezer. Just KNOWING that I am going to need meals that are precooked and/or slow-cooker ready for those kind of days, is half the battle!

Now, for me, like I said, I'm going to ATTEMPT to do a six-week plan. It's quite an undertaking, I know, but since I'm six weeks out from having a newborn, I can only see that as being a good thing (as I say that in my most "Martha-ish" voice). Also, since my casseroles are quite large and can typically be divided in half, that means I will have TWO meals from just ONE recipe without even doubling it!! AND, more importantly, since we will designate one nights and a couple of lunches as leftovers on the weekly menus, we will (**hopefully**) be eating from the freezer for WEEKS! What a wonderful thing!

The only issue I'm discovering now is to have a ready supply of sides on hand. How DOES one go about this? I need to research further because I don't want to be in a "side rut"! However, right now, I'm working on entrees and that's enough stress!

So, I know that I need to prepare enough meals for six weeks. That's 44 days. I think doing this will give me not only a good base of "regulars" but also a good variety of the new recipes that I can't wait to try out.

My 44 meals will consist of this:
  1. Beef stroganoff (1 serving)

  2. Cheeseburger macaroni (2 servings)

  3. Burgers (2 servings)

  4. Sloppy joes (1 serving)

  5. Meat loaf (2 servings)

  6. Pot roast w/veggies (1 serving)

  7. Spaghetti (2 servings)

  8. Steak (2 servings)

  9. Tatertot casserole (1 serving) **this makes enough for 2

  10. Tetrazzini (1 serving) **this makes enough for 2

  11. Quickie tacos (2 servings)

  12. Italian shredded roast beef sandwiches (1 serving)

  13. Swedish meatballs (2 servings)

  14. Meatball subs (1 serving)

  15. BBQ chicken (1 serving)

  16. Chicken a la king (1 serving)

  17. Grandma's chicken and rice w/veggie (1 serving) **this makes enough for 2

  18. Chicken spaghetti (1 serving)

  19. Chicken quesadilias (1 serving)

  20. Fajitas (2 servings)

  21. Marinated grilled chicken (4 servings)

  22. Picaunte chicken (1 serving)

I'm now left with choosing 11 meals from my 4 books to incorporate into tomorrow's endeavor. I'm going to go figure out what those are right now and I'll come back and edit the post to incorporate those after choosing.


Get that grocery list and GO SHOPPING! I've got the meat, now I just need the "stuff." Stay tuned!

Once A Month Cooking - Part B

OK, so this is a little later than expected since I was hoping to continue that night, but as they always say "better late than never!"

Here's how I've started my OAMC planning.

Create a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel of our "standard" rotation of meals. I'm sure there are a few more that I could add to this but this was just off the top of my head. I created 5 columns across the top: Beef, Chicken, Other, Breakfast and Lunch. Beneath each column heading I just started to create this list of our family favorites.

In the Beef category we have: beef stroganoff, chopped steaks w/sauteed onions, cheeseburger macaroni, hamburgers, kabobs, manwich, meat loaf, pot roast w/veggies, salisbury steak, spaghetti, steak, tater tot casserole, tetrazzini, quickie tacos, chili mac, Italian roast beef sandwiches, stew, stuffed peppers, meatball subs

In the Chicken category we have: baked chicken, bbq chicken, chicken a la king, sour cream chicken enchiladas, grandma's chicken and rice bake, chicken Parmesan, chicken pizza, chicken pockets, chicken spaghetti, quesadilias, fajitas, marinated/grilled chicken, oven fried chicken, picaunte chicken, chicken tortilla casserole, broccoli and chicken rice bake, King ranch chicken

In the Other category we have things that take lots of time to prepare or are high fat/calorie meals that I don't necessarily make on any kind of routine basis but that we still enjoy OR other types of meat or quickie meals that I routinely make that didn't deserve their own category: ham w/scalloped potatoes, hot dogs, nachos, grilled pork chops, potato soup, ribs, salmon patties, sandwiches, sausage, shake n bake, turkey and dressing, stuffed shells florentine, cheese enchiladas, fettucini carbonera, lasagna, red beans/sausage with corn bread, pasta milano

In the Breakfast category, I listed what we'd normally have for a breakfast rotation: pancakes, waffles, cereal, oatmeal, bacon/egg/cheese toasters, bacon/egg/cheese biscuits, taquitoes, scrambled eggs, hash browns, toast, biscuits and gravy, sausage, pigs in a blanket, sausage/croissant casserole, French toast, breakfast burritos

In the Lunch category (which needs to be GROSSLY expanded) is typical quick lunches: egg salad sandwiches, chicken nuggets, pizza, frozen dinners, hot dogs, left overs, salad, sandwiches, soup

All of this information appears ONE worksheet so I named the tab at the bottom "Monthly Meal List" and left it at that.

One thing I can clearly see from doing this is the need for more fish in our diets but -- I will confess -- I'm AFRAID of cooking fish. Why? #1) I don't like the "fishy" smell. #2) I don't want to under cook it and die. #3) We never ate lots of fish growing up (that wasn't fried) so I don't really have a HUGE palate for fish and don't want to make a lot of fish dishes that ultimately wind up tasting like crap (to me) because that's a waste and #4) I don't know how to SHOP for fish. Generally, if we want fish, we go out to eat.

I'd really like to bring that home this indulgence we have to not only save money but also to expand my cooking repertoire of fish types, textures, flavors and toppings. So, that's DEFINITELY something that I will be doing.

Get your grocery list ready! Just knowing what you routinely cook will help you start to build your grocery list. For now it will contain the ingredients of those items on your Monthly Meal List which you can now expand upon as you add more recipes to your OAMC plan. To begin preparing a blank grocery list, I named the second tab "Grocery List" and created-just that- a huge grocery list.

Then, I went in and expanded the list even further to include everything I can think of so that as I plan my week or two weeks or three weeks or full month of menus, I can simply add up the totals of each item as I require more of it on the computer, print off one list and take that shopping with me.

The beauty of having it on the computer for me, is because I'm an anal-retentive perfectionist who likes her lists nice and neat and organized. It's a sickness but I've come to accept it. Plus, by having my grocery list on the computer, I can change quantities, make notes and my list still looks pretty. And, stupidly enough, that's important to me.

My ultimate plan is, however, to add ALL of my regular menu rotation items to a software program that I own called MasterCook 7. In MasterCook 7, I can create my own custom cookbook called "OAMC" and because of the functionality of this program, all I would have to do is select the recipe and the PROGRAM will generate a shopping list for me. How cool is THAT?!You can size the recipe up or down so if you wanted to double it, it will do the "thinking" for you. There's a little bit of a learning curve for the software but, honestly, it's really wonderful and has helped me purge PILES of recipes that I've wanted to try. Another bonus, it comes LOADED with SEVERAL cookbooks (I have, however, taken time here and there to go in and delete the recipes from those cookbooks that I KNOW we would never eat or that I would never make. Why take up the memory with something you won't use?) It's easy to import and export recipes electronically into the program as well and the BEST feature (to me) is that I'm not having to pay a monthly fee like some of the other menu sites on the net. I pay ONE FEE to purchase the software and it's MINE forever!

So, while I think being able to do that on my software is a great thing -- it's not practical for me to do today while having a 5 year old on Spring Break. I think that's a project for 2am with a nursing baby.

Moving right along. Now that I have a list of our regular meals, I can work into this rotation the meals from the books that I want to try. If you'll remember, I purchased the following books: Once A Month Cooking, Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer, Fix, Freeze, Feast, Frozen Assets - Cook for a day and Eat for a Month, and Dream Dinners. Each of them has their own style and method for pulling off a OAMC session. I can see how my style wouldn't fit with one method provided but the book itself is still full of great ideas, tips and recipes. So, I'm still muddling my way through them all.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Progress... but not where I wanted it...

I made mountains of progress today but not on my OAMC plan, it was in the playroom. You can ACTUALLY SEE THE FLOOR! >>>GASP<<< !

The formal dining room is still in a shambles. Seriously. It's a wreck.

The playroom, however, is looking much better! I did find one small cause for a hiccup in my plan for reorganization. You see, before the big migration of stuff, the playroom was in a bedroom upstairs that did NOT have a chair rail encircling the room so having media storage mounted on the wall was the perfect choice. I just chose to remove it from the wall and move it downstairs. Sounds like a great idea, right? Wrong. Since the chair rail is around the room which now houses the playroom, we'd have to raise the base of the media storage wall mount up about 2 1/2 feet. This clearly means that there is no way that I, nor anyone else in this house would be able to reach anything near the top. Furthermore, since I'm anal retentive and alphabetize everything, it's clear that anyone desiring a movie would thus miss out on the good ones like... The Adventures of Milo and Otis, Alice in Wonderland, The Aristocats, and Beauty and the Beast, among others. We can't have that so now we will have to figure out some type of media storage for the playroom.

Honestly, though, I think that this may be a blessing in disguise because it will keep the visual clutter still to a minimum. Maybe some type of media cabinet can be installed ON THE WALL?! Hmm..... I'll have to be checking things out! That's for sure. Any ideas?

I also started piecing together my family room. It wasn't painted in full, just the trim, mantle, built ins and molding. Oh yeah, the ceiling was painted too but we didn't really have to move everything around in this room like the others, however, reassembling the mantle has proven to be quite a pain in the glutes! You see, I'm not the type of person who is able to accessorize her person, much less, her abode.

Those great home party jewelry shows everyone has? Yeah, don't invite me. I won't come. Why? Because I have NO IDEA HOW TO ACCESSORIZE! When I had a wedding ring (before it went missing/lost/stolen/whatever) I wore that. Earrings? Diamond studs. Watch? Sometimes, but generally I rely on my Blackberry. Necklace? Generally speaking, never. You see? I'm a minimalist. I feel fake wearing all that stuff and I feel like YOU can tell that I feel fake so I just don't bother.

**edited to include a photo of my blingage that I miss so very much....

Therefore, just as with the jewelry and how I only wore what really meant something to me, I struggle with decorating my home. So, bring it back to my mantle. I don't like having STUFF in my house just to have STUFF. I want it to be something that means something to me, not just something I purchase to fill a space. I have a TON of great accessories that I have purchased that really are just "accessories" that really mean nothing and I guess that's why I really, really struggle with decorating because they mean nothing so, for me, it's just a pain to even go through any motion trying to organize them into anything "nice" because they mean nothing. Does that make any sense whatsoever?

So, I'm calling out the big dogs (my cousin, the decorating diva!) I'm hoping she can come look through my "stuff" and piece together something fantastic. I just want it to look great (OTHER than at Christmas when I really KNOW it does because I rock the Christmas decorations!) Anyone want to see a picture and you can give me ideas? I'm open for any and all constructive criticism!

HOWEVER, progress IS progress. The playroom is just about back to where it was. Which means that after our next run to IKEA to purchase the entertainment/storage system that we're going to assemble (SIDEBAR: Isn't it funny how I say we're as if I'm actually going to do any labor on this project whatsoever? Yeah, I thought so too!) and at that time I will need to remove ALL the storage solutions in there and find them NEW homes (oh the joy of it all). I will be taking the entertainment center (once we paint it a chocolate brown) to the scrapbook room. I actually can't WAIT for that piece! Otherwise, it's lots and lots of plastic storage bins and shelves and such that will certainly find their homes in the garage and the attic. :) Joy!

OH, and I have only about two loads of laundry left to do and I CAN SEE THE FLOOR BENEATH THE PILES! That, in and of itself, is a HUGE feat in my book.

Tomorrow, I'm going to Costco and to a couple of grocery stores to hit up the meat sales and it will begin my huge cooking endeavor. I will post the menu and recipes as I go so that everyone has access to what all I've done, am doing and hope to do.

I think right now I'm going to go up to the baby's room and finish what I can there. And, yeah, he's still called "the baby" because we still haven't figured out a name for him. Here's my list, what do you think?

Benjamin (family name)
Cabe (my grandmother's maiden name)
Charles/Charlie (this is a family name)
Dierks (Andy hates this name)
Liam (Andy hates this name)
Max (Josh and Drew both love this name)
Trey (Andy likes this -- means the third... seems like a cop out to me)

So, those are what we're tossing around. We'll see how it goes. I guess we can't leave the hospital until we have a name so at least sometime next month, we'll have one picked out! Ha!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Once A Month Cooking - Part A

So, I got my new books in and have been reading bits and pieces of them as time allowed to try to make my master plan up for my first attempt at Once a Month Cooking (OAMC) in hopes of having home-cooked, nutritious meals ready for when Mr. He-Who-Has-No-Name arrives next month.

The one constant that I'm learning from these books is that you HAVE to have a plan. The fear I have is that if I just take all these random recipes that they are giving in their books, I'm going to wind up with a freezer full of meals, that no one will eat. Thus, adjustments HAVE to be made.

I have a regular rotation of meals in my repertoire that my family enjoys. Why fix something that isn't broken? Therefore, what I've decided to do is to (hopefully) create a master list (THIS TIME) of MOSTLY family favorites (I'll have enough on my plate with a newborn and no patience to deal with picky eaters, I fear) and I will try to incorporate about 1/3 new recipes that SEEM like they would be palatable for my family.

I'm going to pick and choose a few recipes from each book I think and then I will post my master list back here when I've got it finalized.

One thing I don't want to do is to pick like 6 meals and make 3 of each. I really don't want to eat spaghetti more than once or twice a month and that goes with most of the meals. I really DO enjoy variety in my diet. I think my trouble will be in finding really good sides to go with each. If I'm preparing meat entrees (for the most part) I will still need to have a good selection and variety of sides on hand to go with them.

So... for now, the planning is still underway... I'm hoping to do a stop at Costco today for a huge selection of meat and maybe some produce to freeze and then steam or incorporate into meals. We shall see. Otherwise, Costco will definitely be tomorrow because this week is MY WEEK to cook! It's now or never baby!

--To Be Continued Later This Evening --

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Fill Ins we go!

1. I am so looking forward to date day, afternoon AND night with my hubby tomorrow!
2. Write it down, then you won't forget so you can worry about it later, if you really need to.
3. When you get inspired, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
4. Music is a big part of my life.
5. If you need anything, you know I'll make it happen.
6. My son Josh is about to go on a trip to Iowa for Spring Break.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to taking Josh to the airport (not really but I know he's excited to see his family in Iowa), tomorrow my plans include getting donuts for breakfast for Drew and then taking him to his Mimi and Pop's for the day AND night so that Andy and I can spend the WHOLE day together -- I see LaMadeliene in our future for lunch and I think the Cheesecake Factory for dinner (there or Trulucks) and Sunday, I want to go to the car show in Fort Worth to check out the minivans and SUVs since I DO need a new vehicle!

I'm linked to: Friday Fill-Ins

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Welcome to the cave of chaos!

Told ya I had some pics to share! This isn't for the faint of heart either!

First off, you'll have to remember all the transition my home was ALREADY IN because of the arrival of bambino numero tres next month. We have been purging the attic of all things "infant" so that it can be washed, prepared, set in place, etc. It also has meant getting rid of our formal living room (which was never really used anyway) so that it could become the formal dining room. It meant moving the playroom into what was once the formal dining room. So, I have had tubs and tubs and buckets of stuff already out and all over the place... so now couple that with having to move EVERYTHING out of certain rooms... and away from all the walls so that the crown molding and trim could be painted. It's been a true test of my patience and sanity. With only one mommy meltdown, I think I did okay.

Here is the chaos in which I've been living. This is the family room which honestly, isn't THAT bad even though all the trim was wet and all the furniture was pushed together so that you couldn't even get TO it TO sit down upon it. I failed to take a photos of the ceiling in here, it's painted a really light tan now so that the crown molding really pops! But, really, it wasn't THAT bad....


...however, my formal dining room begs to differ!

Another view of the formal dining room table.

The playroom that is unable to be played in (for now) since everything has to be right in the dead center of it since this room was painted in its entirety. I'm hoping this weekend we venture to IKEA to get the entertainment center that is going inside and just get this room FINISHED! That'd be a dream!

This is the entrance to my scrapbook room. They painted the top half of the walls in this room as well. The bottom is a chocolate brown. And oh my GOSH does that tree ever need to be taken outside and hosed off! YUCK the dust!!!!

This is a peek INSIDE the cave of my scrapbook room... see? Mass chaos!

The pictures don't do the color choice justice... it's really a beautiful color!

This is from the top of the stairs looking down the hallway to the hallway that runs to the boys' rooms.

First door on the right is to the "man cave" or the "testesterone zone" as I like to refer to it.

And HERE are my beautiful IKEA Billy bookshelves that have were built by my father (with some help from Joshua) to house our children's library. I am SO lovin' these!

BUT....regardless of what we've gone through just having THIS small cleared space, made me smile.... doesn't this foyer looks inviting now? (even though it doesn't have my floral, table or photos back up yet!?!)

In between moving stuff for the painters, my dad helped Joshua COMPLETELY rearrange his entire room. They removed his top bunk and stored it in the attic. He completely moved the attic around so that I could actually PUT the bed (disassembled, of course) in it. It's just AMAZING. He also helped him REALLY clean it! It's ... a mother's dream! (Between you and me, I really wonder how long it will STAY this clean?) I have a photo for him to use as a reference point of "clean" however so he's screwed!!


And, I had to put this up here -- one of his favorite Christmas presents--KISS potato heads! LOL

I will put better photos up when it's actually all back together and I didn't take photos of the kitchen island yet or of my bathroom. It looks AWESOME though! :)

Thankful Thursdays!

It’s that time of week again! Time to list what you are thankful for. This week we are doing things that start with the letter “I.”

Happy Thursday!

  • Imaginations -- Drew has the MOST amazing imagination of any kid I've ever known. I hope to foster it and watch it turn into something that will work for him.
  • Ice -- As a true Southerner, I love a big old glass of sweet, ICED tea!
  • Internet -- Face it... I love it! :)
  • Ice cream -- I'm pregnant. 'Nuff said!
  • Independence -- We live in the BEST country on the planet... most people don't appreciate all that our independence REALLY means!
  • Idol -- as in American Idol... it's fun to watch people reach their dreams after lots of hard work.
  • Instructions -- because without it, the world would never get put together CORRECTLY!
  • Italian food -- seriously, does it NEED any further explanation? I think not.
  • Isolation -- because with two crazy boys, sometimes, it's nice to be alone!
  • iFratellis -- Because they have the BEST PIZZA!!!! YUM!
  • Icees -- my boys love frozen, cold treats when it's hot outside.
  • Indiana Jones -- Why? Because it's such a great series AND because my boys ROCK at the Indiana Jones Legos game on the Wii.

What are you thankful for? I'm linked to: The Mommy Files - Thankful Thursday

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I have pictures!

But they're not on this laptop! I will **hopefully** be able to upload them to my bloggidy blog blog tomorrow!

Today was a big day!

I got up, got the boys ready for school, the painters came and finished up EVERYTHING but my room! :)

This means that they've painted and finished

  • The playroom
  • the hallway from the garage to the kitchen
  • the formal dining room
  • the laundry room
  • The scrapbook room
  • the kitchen island
  • the foyer
  • the upstairs hallways (2 of them)
  • ALL of the crown molding and baseboards/trim downstairs

It's just... it's not even the same house! It's just amazing! Since Josh and I try to stay out of their way, school has been rather sporadic at the house this week... especially when you're trying to steer clear from the noxious fumes from the oil based paint used on the trim (YUCKITY YUCK YUCK).

Tomorrow, they're going to be painting my bathroom cabinets black and doing the trim in my bathroom and painting the stripes on Drew's wall and VOILA -- the house is COMPLETE! I'm so SO SO very pleased! I don't think I could get much happier about the way it looks!

Only a few more projects and it's complete.

  1. refinish the hardwood floors
  2. Go to IKEA and purchase/set up the storage system for the playroom so that it's nice and worthy of the space! What we have now is ugly, but functional and doesn't utilize the vertical space like we should be. AND what we have in there NOW is going to my scrapbook room! ha ha... so I'm ready for that just b/c I'll have more storage until I get that room finished out
  3. carpet in master bedroom / closet
  4. have lighting people come do their magic on installing a chandalier in the formal dining room and fix a couple of light switches
  5. hang the curtains in the baby's room and in my bathroom.
  6. get the rugs cleaned so we can put them back on the floors

These things will get done sooner or later. I, personally, can wait on the floors b/c the fumes... BLECH!

I will have photos tomorrow of all the craziness and what it's like to have all your belongings smashed to the middle of the room.... CHAOS! But today, it wasn't so bad after all!