Monday, October 31, 2011

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:

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

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

Homemade Pizza & Salad (our annual Halloween tradition)
Albondigas, Quesadillas (never made it last week)
BBQ Chicken, Parmesan Roasted Potatoes, Salad
Pesto Pasta, Garlic Bread, Brussels Sprouts
Soccer Party!
Chipotle Meatballs, Pasta, Salad
Chicken Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Corn

Pureed Pumpkin
More Applesauce (recipe posting on Wednesday)!

Friday, October 28, 2011

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 history on Bonobos and delved into intriguing pieces of information that I previously did not realize.  I especially liked the "attack" on reality T.V. and how far some people feel they need to take it to entertain society.  All in all an amazing novel that can either be read just as a novel or also interpreted to have societal complaints.

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

  It is tradition that I read every single one of Nicholas Sparks books within a relatively short period of time after it's release and this one was no different.  Having started the book early one afternoon I continued reading until just before dinner at which time I had finished! (Many a thanks to my amazing husband for occupying the kids).  Again Nicholas Sparks does not disappoint as I was extremely intrigued by this new book and even felt there were more unexpected occurrences than in his previous books - this kept me on my seat for sure.  The story of Dawson Cole (I feel it is more his story than anyone elses) tugs at my heart strings for a life that was fated to touch on cruelty for it's entire course.  Reading through his past and then cheering for the future left me attached to the character with feelings of a friend and mother, sister or daughter.  The end of the book was very comforting for me and definitely reminded me that everything happens for a reason. 
I have only two regrets with this book - one, that the characters I conjure in my head are Noah and Allie from The Notebook and I don't think anyone else will fit in their place and two - that having read it in one sitting I am yearning for more Sparks. I cannot wait until next fall to read Sparks' newest addition!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sausage Potatoe Packets

Here is our yummy version of a sausage potato packet...I am sure plenty of people make many varities of these and I hear they are great when camping but I like to make them at home!

Use one Hillshire Farms sausage link.

Cut it up into bite size pieces.

Get some fresh or frozen bell peppers and onions.

A few potatoes.  (4 for the four of us).
Wash them.
Poke holes in them.

Cook for 2-3 minutes (not all the way) just enough for the cooking process
to have started.  This way you don't have to wait 40 minutes for the potatoes
to cook on the bbq.

Add the sausage to a strip of foil.

For a packet with some heat - chop a jalapeno or other chili.

Add the potatoes, bell peppers, onion, (chilies) and olive oil.
You can peal the potatoes or leave them whole - they get a bit crispier if you leave the skin on!

Spread some garlic salt over the top.
Mix with your hands to coat a bit.

Cover with another piece of foil that is nice and secure.

Place on grill on high heat for 15 ish minutes.

Check to make sure it is cooked!
You can eat it out of the foil.

Or flip it over onto a plate and serve!

I love this meal because there is no measuring and there can be no dishes other than a knife and cutting board plus you can make it any way you want!

Happy Eating!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Summer And Fall Foods Oct 24-30

Yummy a bowl of chicken tortilla soup!  Well we aren't having that this week but we are having another great one: Albondigas (sometimes known as Mexican Meatball Soup)!  While we are hoping to have some fallish weather I think sunny SoCal is going to stay warm again this week...oh well.  This time of year is always relatively busy and we have been thankful for our meal plan keeping food from being something else we have to "deal" with - well at least thinking up meals - there is always cooking and cleaning to be done. 

To everyone visiting from Passionate Homemaking - thank you for visiting!  I hope your meal planning is going well for you and hope that you can find something delicious from the list below:

Bagels with Cream Cheese, Honeydew Melon, Yogurt
Scrambled Eggs, Blueberries, Toast with jam or butter
Granola Bars, Grapes, Yogurt
Bagels with Peanut Butter, Honeydew Melon, Yogurt
Cereal, Pomegranates, Yogurt
Pancakes, Pomegranates, Peanut Butter
French Toast, Peaches, Bacon

Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Grapes, Crackers, Snap Peas
Tuna, Cheese, Crackers, Grapes, Snap Peas
Chicken Nuggets, Mac N Cheese, Peaches
Quesadillas, Sour Cream, Corn, Peaches
Bean & Cheese Burritos, Honeydew Melon, Carrots
Pizza, Grapes, Carrots

4 Cheese Pasta with Bacon, Salad
Chicken Tacos, Beans, Green Chile Rice
Chicken Lemon Potato Bake, Garlic Bread
Albondigas Soup, Quesadillas
Fire Island Ziti, Salad, Bread
Chicken Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
TBD by the Hubby

Happy Eating!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Theme Thursday: Bible Studies!

Welcome to theme Thursday all!  This week I thought we would take a look at how we are studying the Bible and our Catholic faith.  While the girls are only 4.5 and 2.5 I feel that it is important to begin teaching them of our faith.  In addition to weekly mass attendance (which we have been doing since they were each 6 weeks old) we have now begun the following activities!

Each morning we read a bible story - out of both the traditional Catholic Bible and the Children's Rhymn Bible pictured above.  It is important for them to listen to biblical readings early as this is how they are read in mass and also the reference point for later life.  I also want them to be able to understand the stories and learn from them - hence the Children's storybook bible!

Then we color in some matching pages from our Bible Coloring Book!

We pick a major story and follow it all week - reading portions of it each day
and coloring in portions of the story each day.

Examples: Creation, Adam & Eve, Noah, Tower Of Babel. etc

We also have a book of Children's Activities based upon Catholic Holy Days and people of importance (saints).  Each month I look to see what days are coming up and we try to do an activity for each of those.

Lastly there are several important time periods in which we use family traditions and household decor to help teach the beliefs and stories of our faith.  Examples would be Advent and Christmas as well as Lent and Easter (posts on these separate events coming during the appropriate time frame)!

I encourage you whatever your faith may be to take some time and find a way to pass your knowledge and beliefs on to your children!

Happy Learning!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How to Grow Garlic

 Here are the simple steps we used to grow our own garlic!
(Let me just add it had the best flavor ever)!

Start with a bulb of garlic - just buy it at the grocery store,
please do not waster your money on bulbs from any gardening center.

Break each clove off.
You will get a better crop if you use only the large cloves.

Push the clove into the soil - pointy side up.
You can plant it in a box, in the ground, or in a pot!
You don't need to peel it after it is separated just stick the whole thing in.

Make sure it is in the soil.
Then water every few days (unless it is over 100 then every day would be better)!

In a week or two you should see little garlic sprouts!
Keep watering every couple of days - you don't want the soil to completely dry out
 but nor do you want it to be a swamp as the garlic clove could mold.

For big full heads of garlic plant sometime in the fallish months (Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec)
Then harvest sometime between June and August (when the "leafy" tops are dead).

This also works for elephant garlic!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Coaching A U5 Soccer Team

This year Big C is finally old enough to play organized sports!  Having played soccer my entire life I excitedly signed her up in March (the season didn't start until September)!  Well one thing leads to another and while I was technically considering it - they asked me to be a coach.  Whatever was I thinking agreeing to that!  In all actuality it has been a true learning experience and while it is much more difficult than I imagined it is turning out to be pretty fun.

There are six 4 year old's on our team and at practice and I also have Little C who is 2.5.  The first few practices and the first game were a total disaster - none of the girls understood the game at all and while we did score quite a few goals they were all in the other team's net!  Plus the girls plowed off the field and into all of the bystanders taking out quite a few people -oops. 

Slowly practices got better, now at week 7 (3 more to go) the girls are getting the basic concepts of direction and getting a ball in the goal.  We play games like Coach says, Sleepy Bear, Tag (with a ball), we run, we pass and we practice big kicks.  I tie a heck of a lot of shoes every practice and even more so every game.  We talk about passing and dribbling and kicking with the inside of your toe.  They are learning to stop playing when they hear the whistle.  They are building endurance (the first game not a single girl played an entire quarter - I had to keep rotating them) and now they are playing at lesat two quarters in a row.

Yet they are 4 year old girls and they all want attention and they all want the ball - all of the time.  This is our next lesson...sharing.  Maybe next year they can learn more technique but for now I am hoping they are having fun - they are four years old - I will be happy if they are happy and I will be ecstatic if they want to play again next year! Don't ask me if I am coaching - that decision will be made next year!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tomatoes A Plenty - Weekly Weigh In

Our asparagus plant is growing like crazy and I am thinking these red balls mean it is getting closer to time to cut it down for the winter.  Next season I will take pictures of how we are growing asparagus (and we might even get to eat some next year!)  But for those who don't know ( I sure didn't) it looks like a crazy fern and is a forever plant (seriously it lasts around 30 years) so you just cut it back each year and then next year it will grow in!  Now for our weekly weigh in:

1.138 lbs of cucmbers
sweet sweet cucumbers!

.406 lbs of basil and tomatillos

2.06 lbs of tomatoes and habeneros

.609 lbs of cherry tomatoes

We also had two onions, more basil, and some roma tomatoes that the hubby needed for bruschetta - so he cut them and used them not even stopping to think about weighing them....oh well!

Our total week's weight is: 4.213 lbs

Annual total: 136.477 lbs!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Food Galore Oct 17th - 23rd

I cannot believe that it is the middle of October already - this year is truly flying by.  The weather this past week was super hot (100+ degrees) so we are definitely ready for the cool down this week (to the mid 80s haha).  This week I will mix a little fall flare with some summertime BBQ since it is dark early but still warm.  Most of the recipes this week are ones we have created over time or adapted from other recipes and I will be posting more about them in the coming weeks!

  • Oatmeal, Blueberries, Yogurt
  • French Toats, Yogurt, Peaches
  • Pancakes, Apples, Yogurt
  • Scrambled Eggs, Toast, Pears
  • Granola Bars, Raisins, Peanut Butter
  • Chocolate Chip Muffins, Blueberries, Yogurt
  • Chocolate Chip Muffins, Apples, Peanut Butter

  • Egg Salad Sandwiches, Pears, Carrot Sticks
  • Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Apples, Carrot Sticks
  • Ham Sandwiches, Raisins, Graham Crackers
  • Loaded Chicken Quesadillas
  • Pasta with butter sauce, peas, peaches
  • Chicken Nuggets, Grapes, Tomatoes
  • Hot Dog Sandwiches, Peas, Pineapple
  • Sausage Potato Packets
  • Chicken Parmesan, Pasta, Salad
  • Green Burritos (photo above), Green Chile Rice, Corn
  • Whole Chicken Soup, Baked Potatoes, Corn
  • Chicken Enchiladas, Refried Beans, Rice
  • Sloppy Joes, Mac N Cheese, Brussells Sprouts
  • TBD by my Hubby!
What are your favorite fall dishes?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Early October Book Reviews!

The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larrson

After reading the first two books in the trilogy I must say I was dissapointed in this book.  It was very slow in the beginning and it wasn't until halfway through that I finally became genuinely intrigued.  Once I got through the first half which was a lot of historical points, government explanations, and character backgrounds I was hooked and read the second half in about a day!  The story continues from the cliff hanger at the end of the second book and continues to complete the tale of Mickael and Lisbeth as well as many other characters.  There are some weird plots twisted into this novel that don't necessarily need to be included but are interesting on their own.  I definitely left many scenes wondering if Mickael had really lost his mind and also second guessing the truth of the matter's at hand.  While the death of Deg and Mia was quite shocking to me it really does tie the story together quite naturally.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has read the first two and since I would recommend the first two to anyone you really should read them all!  Again be forewarned that these are graphic and disturbing novels - skim pages as necessary and just try to enjoy the thrill of solving the mystery not the gory details!

The Thorn by Beverly Lewis

This book is quite different than the above book however I have always been fascinated by the Amish way of life and after having visited Lancaster County and some Amish farms this summer I was thrilled to find this Nook Book for only a few dollars (looks like it is no longer that price)!  The story revolves around the Kauffman family (man a lot of Amish have that name) but most importantly around their second daughter Rose Ann and her quest to find true love either alone forever or with a husband.  While she is busy searching for the correct answer I enjoyed the aspect of her sister Hen's troubles adjusting to the "outside world" and longing for the familiar quietude of her "simple" childhood.  Following these two sisters are their seemingly different paths was quite enjoyable and light hearted even with some serious points.

It is highly intriguing to have a peak into the Amish life (albeit a fictional one) and to thrust yourself into imaging just how different things can be for different people.  This is the first in a trilogy (of course - why do I keep finding interesting trilogies) and I cannot wait to get my hands on the other two in the near future!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Grocery Deals

Hey all and welcome to a new week w

Just wanted to point out that Fresh and Easy has a $5 off $25.
They have great prices on meat, pizza dough, pumpkins, veggies, bagels, dices tomatoes and bread.

(There is a daily deal until the 20th at

Hass Avocados @ .68 each - Excellent Price
Red/Green/Romaine Lettuce @ .99 each - Great Price
Bartlett Pears @ .99/lb = Great Price
Organic Bananas @ .79/lb = Great Price
Organic Apples @ 1.49/lb = Excellent Price
Organic Baby Carrots @ 1.49/lb = Excellent Price

Boneless Skinless Breasts or Thighs @ 1.97/lb = Stock Up Price
Cross Rib Roast @ 2.77 = Great Price
Hormel Pepperoni @ 2.99 = Good Price

Yoplait Yogurt 32 oz @ 2.49 = Great Price (coupons)

Crest Toothpaste @ 1.00 = Stock Up Price (with coupons)
Oral B Toothbrush @ 1.00 = Stock Up Price (with coupons)

Ghirardelli Premium Chocolate Chips @ 1.99 = Stock Up Price
Powdered Sugar @ 1.00 = Great Price
Albertsons Diced Tomatoes @ .50 = Stock Up Price
Albertsons Beans @ .50 = Stock Up Price
Holiday Grapes @ 1.49/lb = Good Price
Limes @ .33 each = Good Price
Cucumbers @ .79 each = Good Price
Zatarains Dinner Mixes @ 1.00 = Great price
Graham Crackers @ 2.24 = Great Price (with coupons)
Cornish Game Hens @ 1.89/lb = Great Price

BUY 10 SAVE 5:
General Mills Cereals (select) @ 1.99 = Excellent price (with coupons)
Pillsbury Grands Biscuits @ 1.00 = Great Price (with coupons)
Betty Crocker Cake Mix @ .99 = Good price (with coupons)
Hamburger Helpers @ 1.00 = Good Price (with coupons)

Stater Brothers:
Gala Apples @ .79/lb = Excellent price
Hillshire Farms Sausage @ 2.50 = Stock Up Price
Pluots @ .79/lb = Excellent price
Broccoli @ .99/lb = Excellent Price
Avocados @ 1.00 = Good Price

Buy 10 Save $3:
Banquet Pot Pies @ .49 = Excellent Price
Rotel Diced Tomatoes @ .69 = Excellent Price
Slim Jim @ .69 = Excellent Price
Rosarita Beans @ .69 = Stock Up Price
Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa @ .95 = Excellent Price
Hunts Ketchup @ 1.19 = Great Price
Hunts BBQ Sauce @ 1.19 = Great Price
Fleishmans Margarine @ .99 = Excellent Price
Hunts Tomatoes @ 1.69 = Great Price
Guldens Mustard @ 1.69 = Great Price
Act II Popcorn @ 1.69 = Great Price

Happy Shopping everyone!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Green Enchiladas (gone sour)!

 Green Enchiladas Recipe
(the semi quick semi homemade way)!

 Heat half a big can of enchilada sauce in a shallow skillet.

 Heat a skillet of canola oil.
You want it to cover the corn tortillas for sure and be about an inch or more deep.

 Once the oil is heated place the tortilla in and fry for 15 seconds.
Flip over with tongs and fry another 15 seconds or so.
You don't want them crispy but you also want to make sure they aren't as raw.

 You can add chopped or shredded chicken if you like!
Yes I like the Hubs does not.
The girls are undecided some days they do and some not so much.

 Have your shredded cheese ready in a bowl.

 Place a thin layer of sauce at the bottom of the Pyrex baking dish.
Then dip your fried tortilla in the heated enchilada sauce and lay in the pan.

Layer your chicken (if using) and then cheese.  
Roll the enchilada and repeat to make as many as desired.
Then pour extra enchilada sauce over the whole pan.
Sprinkle the whole pan with lots of cheese.
Bake @ 425 degree for 10-20ish minutes (until the cheese is melted).
Serve hot with beans and rice.

Notice I don't have a picture of them done that would be because:
First make sure you try the cheese - because if it went bad then you couldn't eat the whole big tray you slaved over - well you could but you would be sick - profusely so.

Yes this happened to me...on my husband's birthday (except we caught it and didn't eat them - phew).
But I ruined his birthday dinner.
And then made up for it by taking him out for enchiladas a couple nights later and they were perfect!

What have you goofed up on recently? Or not so recently?
(come on don't be shy please make me feel better)!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Garden Update Minus Pics!

So sorry folks but the above picture is from a few weeks ago and I have no new pictures for this week.  Our Goddaughter was born last week and we left the camera at the hospital following her birth (on purpose)...I don't mind one bit at having not had it!  

Our total weight though (yes I weighed it just didn't photograph it) is:

.412 lbs + 3 lbs + 1.12 lbs + 4lbs

Which consisted of cherry tomatoes, basil, roma tomatoes (galore), 2 nice big cucumbers (plus lots more coming) and some onions!

For a total weekly harvest of:  8.532 lbs! (this is thankfully heavier than Audrey's birth weight)!

Our annual total is:  132.264!

Wholly guacamole - we haven't harvested any pumpkins and none of our fruit trees bared any fruit this year - what is going to happen in the next few years when everything is producing!  Ahhhh I cannot wait to be able to can and freeze and can some more and give lots away and I even jokingly (semi) told the girls instead of a lemonade stand they could have a produce stand?!?

Anywho hope you all are having a great week and are ready for picture overload of our fall/winter crops next week!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Meal Plan Oct 10 - 16th

This week we will continue celebrating the Hubby's birthday since he gets a day off this week instead of last week on his actual birthday!  Above are the cupcakes we served him - all you have to do is make your favorite brownie recipe/mix and pour into muffin liners then bake for about half the time of the original recipe (the girls each picked a candle holder)!

This week we will be making some delicious food and trying to stay away from the oven as it is supposed to be "warm" again - about mid 80s (supposedly).  Other than that we will keep busy with daddy's day off, library time, soccer practice, and all other things called life.

Our menu for the week:

Oatmeal, Blueberries, Hard Boiled Egg
Life Cereal, Pears, Yogurt with Jam
Blueberry Pancakes, Yogurt
French Toast, Egg, Apples
Granola Bars, Raisins, Milk
Eggs, Toast, Oranges
Cereal, Pears

Egg Salad Sandwiches, Crackers, Carrots, Pears
Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Animal Cookies, Apples, Peas
Quesadillas, Corn, Pinto Beans, Oranges
Grilled Cheese, Chicken Noodle Soup, Peaches
Tuna Salad, Crackers, Cheese, Carrots, Peaches
Chicken Nuggets, Carrots, Oranges

Szechuan Chicken, Fried Rice, Brocoli
Japanese Chicken Curry w/veggies, White Rice
French's Mustard Steak, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Mashed Potatoes
Justin's Chicken Pasta, Garlic Bread, Salad
Pesto Pasta, Garlic Bread, Salad
Spaghetti, Salad, Bread n Butter
TBD by the Hubs