Showing posts from 2011

Some Christmas Decorations!

A bowl full of ornaments makes the perfect center piece!
Yesterday we talked a lot about Advent traditions and now here are some of our Christmas but not so much religious traditions!
Stocking with a lighted garland.
Some simple ribbon and cricut cutouts transform a closet door into a Christmas Card Wonderland. I absolutely love receiving Christmas cards every year - and yes I send my own out on November 30th so that people can enjoy them (hopefully) all month long!
Every year we get the girl's an ornament based upon what they like that year. Unfortunately this year they aren't very telling of their personalities but this picture is. Look at Chloee's goofy look and Caylee's messy hair.  That about tells it all!

Garlic Bread - Simple Weeknight Side

Ever have those extra hot dog/hamburger buns or bread that is almost too old to eat. Turn it into a simple weeknight side dish - garlic bread! This simple idea saves food from the trash and costs no extra money!
For buns - slice in half and spread with butter.
Sprinkle some garlic powder (or garlic salt) and parsley flakes. You could add chile flakes if you so desire.
Add some Parmesan cheese (or any cheese you have).
Broil until crispy (5-10 minutes depending on your bread). Serve with almost any meal!
What are your quick time and food saving recipes?

Advent Traditions

Our Nativity Scene Which we often stop and talk about all of the pieces and the story. The girls also have a little people set that they can play with.
Every year we look forward to the holiday season.  It begins with Halloween and moves rather quickly to Thanksgiving.  We try hard to enjoy these days in and of themselves but part of us is secretly excited that soon it will be the Christmas season.  Now in the true religious sense the Christmas season doesn't begin until midnight mass on Christmas eve.  The season that truly lies between Thanksgiving and Christmas days is Advent.  As a family we have been trying to instill some advent traditions which enlighten us to the true meaning of Christmas: the birthday of Jesus.  Please don't kid yourself when you think we don't also fall into the hustle and bustle of modern Christmas season: shopping, decorating, baking, eating to much - yep we do that too - we just try to also have some fun memories of the season's real mean…

Meal Plan and Busyness!

Whew - it feels good to be blogging again!  These last few (well almost 6 weeks) I have been stepping in as an administrative assistant at my old job and thus things have been quite busy around here.  While I am not done helping out we should have a little reprieve and the posts should be more regular (although they probably won't be daily still).  Thank you for all the stop ins while I was away - you all are the best!

Here is our menu for the week:

Egg McMuffins (homemade), MangosPeanut Butter Sandwiches, Cheez Its, Carrots, BlueberriesCheese Enchiladas, Refried Beans, Spanish Rice, Corn Tuesday:
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, Persimmons, YogurtEgg Salad Sandwiches, Cheez Its, ApplesPasta Carbonera with Lemon & Leeks, Garlic Bread, Salad Wednesday:
Egg McMuffins, PersimmonsPotato Soup, Garlic Bread, SaladTacos, Nachos, Peas Thursday:
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, Apples w/peanut butterSoup & Grilled Cheese, PearsBreakfast Burritos, Pineapple Friday:
Granola Bars, Applesau…

Back to the Basics: A Few Book Reviews

Having visited Pennsylvania Dutch Country recently I have been on a big Amish novel kick.  While this infatuation of mine definitely stemmed from visiting the area I really do believe my continued love for these novels is the simplicity of life.  Now don't get me wrong, no one's life is simple, however there are so many endearing qualities of Amish life.  Lot's of family, nature, and quiet time.  Tons of home cooked food and fresh grown produce.  No wondering what to wear or how much gas will cost this week.  Yes they deal with having to hand wash everything, hand make everything, and the physical labor of growing their own crops - it's not candy land but it is just really gratifying to sink into that world of theirs and know that my heart yearns for many of their tightly held principles (obviously technology is not one of them).  Without further ado here are my reviews for the second and third books in the Rose Trilogy by Beverly Lewis.

The Judgment:

     In this…

The Pumpkin is Orange!

This past week a very exciting thing happened in our garden: the pumpkin turned completely orange! And for that we are giving thansk - well for that and a whole plethora of other things!
.094 lbs
.42 lbs
9.937 lbs!

.03 lbs
.93 lbs
.72 lbs
1.06 lbs
3.84 lbs
A very blessed week at: 17.031 lbs!
Annual Total: 163.598 lbs

Thanksgiving Crafts

In honor of Thanksgiving we watched the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving! Read plenty of Thanksgiving books. And did the following crafts.
We made handprint mayflowers and talked about the long voyage the pilgrims had.
We used pinecones from our Big Bear trip to make turkey's and talked about how it is a more recent tradition but a good one at that.
We use old toilet paper rolls to make corn cobs and talked about how hard it was to grow vegetables.
We also made this pilgrim hat out of a clay pot to adorn our table.
Lastly we made turkey handprints and talked about the things we were thankful for!

(For more detailed instructions google each craft and you will find several sources).

Thanksgiving Week Meal Plan

We are so blessed to be spending two separate days celebrating Thanksgiving this year and I am also continuing the training process at my old job (I am training someone else) so this week is a bit different than normal. At any rate we have some great food planned and are looking forward to lots of family time and the start of Christmas preparations!  Happy eating all!

Granola Bars, Applesauce, Eggs
English Muffin Sandwiches, Blueberries
English Muffin Sandwiches, Grapefruit
Muffins (flavor tbd), Oranges, Peanut Butter
Oatmeal with craisins, Juice
Omelets, Toast, Juice
Cinnamon Rolls, Juice


Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Carrots, Applesauce
Chicken Nuggets, Peas, Apples
Turkey Sandwiches! Cranberry Sauce, Green Bean Casserole
Quesadillas, Black Beans, Oranges
Hot Dogs, Mac N Cheese, Peas
Leftovers or Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Snacky foods before Thanksgiving


Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
Mexican Food with Family
Szechaun Chicken, Fried Rice, Veggies

45 Mile Commute by Choice

Two years ago today we moved our family 45 miles away from my husband's work and my parents and where no one we knew lived.  Yep we used to live about 3 miles from hubby's work and about 12 miles from my parents home then moved out to the cow farms (literally - we see one from our master bedroom and smell them every time we go outside).  What in the world would make us up and move so far away...LIFE and the dream to live it. Here are some of our reasons for moving 45 miles away: Desire for an actual house with a yard.  We knew in our hearts that the lifestyle we wanted for our family included outdoor playing and Christmas decorating.  We wanted a garden and streets to ride bikes on, we wanted a true single family home with neighbors more likely to grow old on our street than to rent out next year.  Sure it exists where we moved from but they are few and far between.Price.  We didn't want to be so strapped to make payments on our "home" that we couldn't actual…

Home Warming Foods Meal Plan

As a family we spent this past weekend up in Big Bear Lake!  We had originally planned to hike, fish, and play outside in the sunshine - except they uncharacteristically had a huge storm last week and another inch and a half of snow this weekend!  We spent the weekend by the fire, building snowmen, going on toboggan rides, and occupying a very sick two year old!  Anywho the point of this is that the cold weather made us crave warmth and our meal plan this week proves it: almost everything involves the oven which inevitably warms the home...hoping it stays "cool" this week!


granola bars, oatmeal, blueberriespancakes, pears, eggscarrot muffins, kiwi, peanut butterfrench toast, applescereal, fruitoatmeal w/craisins, milkeggs, toast, apples

egg salad sandwiches, carrots, blueberriespeanut butter sandwiches, graham crackers, pearstuna, crackers, cheese, grapes, carrotschicken nuggets, carrots, applesauceleftoverssalami, crackers, cheese, pearschicken quesadi…

Grocery Deals - Yes there are some GREAT deals right now!

With the holiday's fast approaching sales are finally becoming available.  By sales I mean stock up sales!!!!!!! Okay yes retail sales have been awesome too and I have scored some Christmas gifts for prices well under budget and that definitely makes me happy, but so does a full pantry!

Ralphs and Stater Brothers have the best sales this week so those are the ones listed below but I did want to point out that Albertsons's has Butterball turkey's Buy One Get One Free with a $25 purchase.

Ralphs Deals:
Foster Farms Bone in Chicken Meat - @ .97/lb = Stock Up PriceBroccoli or Cauliflower @ .88/lb = Stock Up PriceRoma Tomatoes @ .88/lb = Great PriceHansen's Apple Juice @ 1.99 = Great PriceRitz Crackers @ 1.99 = Great Price (coupons available)Hass Avocados @ 1.00 = Good Price BUY 10  SAVE $5
Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce @ .99 = Great Price (last year's low was .49)Annie's Mac N Cheese @ .69 = Excellent Price (Coupons available)Bumble Bee Light Tuna @ .69 = Great PriceDel…

When Your Dreams Change

Having worked with my dad these last two day's and experienced once again the concept of working outside the home I thought I would write a post on when dreams change.  Growing up I always wanted to be a mom, I also wanted to work in corporate America.  While attending college I struggled to figure out exactly what industry I wanted to work in. Low and behold I ended up working in insurance and loved it! However while in college I also met my soul mate and got married (best decision ever)! We decided together that when we had kids I would stay home with them.

     Along comes my first pregnancy and well we aren't quite ready for me to stop working, so for the first two year's of Big C's life I worked outside of the home.  I was very lucky to take her to work for the first year (but please believe me when I tell you it is extremely difficult!) and then my mom watched her while I worked not quite full time during the second year.  Shortly before little C was born I …

New Meal Plan + A Tip

This week will be a little different for us as I have an obligation early in the week that will keep busy for a couple of days and later in the week we have a little special plan for some extra family time (I will share more next week after our plan is complete)! Anyways we are super excited for all of this great food!
Each week I am now going to try and give you an tip on how to increase the benefits of your meal plan and hopefully to help your grocery budget shrink (unless you are already at the lowest possible point)!
TIP #1: My first tip meal planning tip is that you should really meal plan the whole week - any meals you eat including snacks.  Count out what you actually need (i.e. 5 plums, 2 heads of lettuce etc etc.).  Obviously you will have times when you cannot follow your exact plan but you should have things in  your pantry to get you through some hiccups.  Without a full meal plan you are either going to run out of food or throw spoiled food away and both would be a bumme…

Homemade Applesauce!

Cheap apples at the stores this week - made me really wan to make this:
Homemade canned applesauce! I searched the Internet high and low and didn't find a recipe I liked so I took a whole bunch and combined them all!
Start by washing your apples!
Core and slice your apples. Then peel them.
Place peeled apples in a large dutch oven.
Add 1.5 cups of water.
 Add 1/2 cup brown sugar. (You could do sugar free but I used "sour" granny smith's)
Add 1 cinnamon stick - for a light cinnamon flavor. If you love cinnamon applesauce increase to 2-4.
Bring the water at the bottom to a boil over high heat. Then stir.
Cover and cook on medium heat for 30-35 minutes. Stirring every 15 minutes.
When they are done cool for a minute or two!
Puree with a stick blender stuck right into the pot.
Here is your end product!!!!!
Delicious Applesauce!
Recipe: 6.5 lbs of apples (at least two kinds - I used Granny Smith & Gala) 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 and 2/3 cups of water 1 cinnamon stick

Garden Update!

2.76 lbs of tomatoes/chilies.

1.125 lbs of tomatoes
.531 lbs of cucumber
.84 cherry tomatoes and Anaheim chilies
1.45 lbs of tomatillos
This week's total: 6.706 lbs
Annual Total: 146.567 lbs!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Halloween! & A Meal Plan

A few crafts we worked on this week - and yes they are all made out of paper bags and paint! We had such a blast but cannot believe today is already Halloween.  This year is flying past us at the speed of light...we have a fun last week of soccer ahead of us and are gearing up for some fall weather (fingers crossed and prayers said) rather than the 90 degrees today.  So here is our menu for the week:
Breakfasts: Oatmeal, Blueberries, Yogurt Omelette's, Honeydew, Toast French Toast, Blueberries, Yogurt Pancakes, Plums, Yogurt Cereal, Plums Granola Bars, Applesauce, Hard boiled Eggs Cereal, Applesauce, Peanut Butter on a spoon

Lunches: Leftovers Grilled Cheese, Soup, Carrots, Plums Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Crackers, Snap Peas, Plums Tuna Sandwiches, Carrots, Honeydew Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Raisins, Snap Peas Sub Sandwiches, Honeydew, Chips Quesadillas, Salsa, Pinto Beans

Dinners: Homemade Pizza & Salad (our annual Halloween tradition) Albondigas, Quesadillas (never made it las…

Apes & The Best of Me- A Book Review (or two)

We started off the week on the right foot and then ended up with head colds for a few days..while we all rested this mama read a few books I have been dying to get to!

Ape House by Sarah Gruen

   This book far exceeded my expectations and is a wonderful addition to Sarah Gruen's collection (she is the author of Water for Elephants).  An excellent story about one person's devotion to a group of Bonobo Apes this fantastic story had just enough twists and turns to keep me turning page after page as well as enough emotion to draw me in to each of the characters.  While the relationship between the Isabelle and the reporter is a bit awkward at times (it probably could have been left out) I enjoy how the reporter is able to put the story aside to actually care for the topic (apes) and the subjects (bonobos and their "mom").  This story tore at my heart as a mother which Isabelle definitely is to this troop of Bonobos.  While truly a novel this story also gave some unknown h…

Garden Update - The Pumpkin is Turning!

Our biggest and pumpkin (yes a little scratched up) is turning orange if only ever so slowly!  We are bummed to only have two pumpkins growing this year but extremely hopeful that he will be ORANGE in a week...we are counting down to Halloween over here!
.69 lbs of produce
.234 lbs of basil

1.02 lbs of tomatoes
.35 lbs of chilies
.56 lbs of tomatillos
.53 lbs of cherry tomatoes
Total weight this week: 3.384 lbs of produce!
Annual Total: 139.861 lbs