Sunday, December 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - Happy New Year!!

Christmas has come and gone; we put son #1 back on the airplane and the house is quiet (relatively speaking). We don't yet know when son #2 will get to come home on leave, but I know his request for a "Christmas" menu will be beef, not turkey!
For this week?
Sunday~ leftovers at hubby's request: turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, swiss beans, whatever else was in the fridge that looked interesting.
Monday~ Mom, sis & I are going out to dinner for our Christmas present to each other. The boys will fend for themselves.
Tuesday~ Tacos, at son #3's request.
Wednesday~ New Year's Eve... we have decided to have fondue... cheese and chocolate. YUMMMM!
Thursday~ HAPPY NEW YEAR! Lasagna, tossed salad, and garlic toast. I am a southern girl, so usually we have blackeyed peas and rice, but they are no one's favorite, so this year I decided we should pick something that everyone loves and is easy for Mom.
Friday~ Breakfast for Dinner.
Saturday~ Dad chooses a recipe from his new Bobby Flay cookbook.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thankful Thursday - Christmas edition

This Christmas, I am thankful that two of my sons are home. As I type this, I am watching one of them recline in a chair, and the other snuggle next to him as they watch a movie. They are in front of the tree, totally loving being together. The older flew in today on leave from the Marine Corps, and the youngest has anxiously been waiting for this day since Thanksgiving.

I am also sad because one of the boys is not home.... he is in the Air Force and could not get leave. This is the first Christmas in our family that we have dealt with being spread apart, and I have had to force myself to carry on with the holiday traditions for the sake of my youngest son. Because I really haven't felt like doing it.

But God is gracious, and He is so kind - my heart is full. I am truly thankful.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Week Menu Plan

Well, we survived the first CRAZY semester of school, and we've made it to vacation. Which we all need VERY badly. Son #1 comes in on Christmas Eve, and a young lady is coming to visit him (and consequently, us) the day after Christmas. Which makes for a very interesting holiday! We're excited, and a little nervous.... and we'll see how it goes. As for what we're eating? Much of it is requested by son #1. When son #2 gets leave, I guess he will dictate the menu. :)

Sunday~ Cold and rainy weather calls for Soup and Sandwiches.
Monday~ Mom is going to a party; Dad & son #3 will fend for themselves (probably go out to eat)
Tuesday~ Hubby and I are having a date. Son #3 will have pizza with the sitter.
Wednesday~ Son #1 comes in. Beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, broccoli with cheese sauce and crescent rolls... all at his request.
Thursday~ CHRISTMAS! Roast turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole (with streusel topping), Swiss beans, and rolls. For dessert: pumpkin pie (ds#1's fave), pecan pie (hubby's fave), and brownies. Then we'll pass out from overeating.
Friday~ Christmas with the extended family at a local restaurant, then back to the grandparents' house for dessert and gifts.
Saturday~ not sure yet.... either something on the grill or soup. Depends on the weather and how much we've stuffed ourselves!
Be sure to celebrate the gifts in your life,
and share your menus at Laura's!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday

What works for me:
Frozen Cookie Dough

This summer, when school was out and I had time on my hands (GOSH.... it is hard to remember what that is like...), I decided to make some cookie dough. A lot of it. Peanut butter, chocolate chip, ginger oatmeal (a new recipe I tried... and luckily it was a hit!). Of course, you can't get away with making cookie dough and not cookies, so I baked some cookies too, but I froze a large amount of dough. I rolled it into logs, and wrapped it in plastic wrap. Then I put it in a freezer bag and labeled it according to the type of cookie dough (along with baking instructions... because sometimes I forget. And you can guess at baking temps & times, but sometimes that can be problematic).

So this week, as I am needing treats for friends, I can pull out my HOMEMADE frozen cookie dough and bake off a fresh batch, wrap it in a cute box, and say "Merry Christmas!" With a big smile. Because one day, this summer, I was smart.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Well, I never got to posting a menu last week, but we did eat! I had been gone all weekend on a trip with my Chorus, and on Sunday, I cooked dinner... my husband said, "Ahhh... there's nothing like your cooking." It was a really elaborate meal too - turkey open-faced sandwiches with mashed potatoes (all leftovers!).
So on to the plan for this week:

Sunday~ Beef tenderloin roasted in the oven (see this post for details), roasted potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, Caesar salad
Monday~ Black'n'bleu salad (my own take on this one from O'Charley's), french bread
Tuesday~ Lemon chicken (adapted from this recipe), rice, broccoli
Wednesday~ Spaghetti (serious comfort food around here!)
Thursday~ Vegetable soup & sandwiches
Friday~ Leftovers or must-goes or pizza... we get out for Christmas vacation that day, so there's no telling!!!
Saturday~ TBA
Share your menu creations at Menu Plan Monday!

Scrumtious Sunday

My contribution is not so much a recipe, but a method. You see, we live in Florida, where we grill all year long. Even when it is cold (cold = 30s for us) or rainy. Like today. I really wanted to grill a beef tenderloin after church today, but hubby did not have charcoal for the grill.
So what's a girl to do?
I researched options for pan-roasting this here tenderloin, and I found this from Alton Brown on Food Network:
Sear roast on all sides in cast iron skillet (I just used a pan with an oven-safe handle).
Allow meat to rest, then place into 250 degree oven to roast until meat reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees (about 15-20 minutes). Allow meat to rest before carving.

And then I read directions on the packaging for said beef tenderloin.
Roast in a 325 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.
Allow meat to rest before carving.

So... I get it... let the meat rest.

I decided to sear the meat in my skillet to give it some color. Then, because I already had the oven at 425 to roast some potatoes, I put the meat in there at that temp. It cooked approximately 15 minutes. I removed it from the oven, let it rest, sauteed some mushrooms and set the table, then carved the meat into very thin slices. It was pink and lovely....

So, now I know - you CAN substitute oven-roasting for grilling when you have to. ;)

Share your recipes and revelations on Scrumptious Sunday Swap at Happy To Be At Home!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's DECEMBER... and a Menu!

It's a delicious new banner for
Menu Plan Monday!
It makes me feel so festive. :)

This week is an amazingly busy week: I have my holiday concert on Tuesday, my student teacher's last day is Wednesday, and then I leave for a trip with my chorus on Thursday (we return on Saturday).
So here is the schedule... such as it is.
Sunday~ our last dinner with all the boys home... ham, sweet potato casserole, corn on the cob, broccoli with cheese sauce, and breadsticks
Monday~ All the Thanksgiving leftovers you could possibly desire
Tuesday~ concert - out to eat afterwards
Wednesday~ either more leftovers, or breakfast
Thurs & Fri~ no sense planning anything, because hubby will change it to suit his mood!
Saturday~ I'd love a home-cooked meal when I come home, but we'll have to play that by ear.
Check out more menu magnificence at Laura's!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Scrumptious Sunday Swap!

What a perfect week to have a recipe swap. The recipe I'd like to share is a family favorite - my mother began making it years ago in an attempt to get all of us to eat green beans. Now we have it every year for every family gathering; it has become a tradition!

Swiss Beans
2 cans French style green beans

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. chopped onion
1/4 tsp. salt
Dash pepper
1 c. sour cream

8 oz. grated Swiss cheese

Cook green beans and drain. Layer in casserole dish.

In small saucepan, melt butter; stir in flour. Bring to bubbling and continue for 1 minute. Add sugar, onion, salt, pepper, sour cream. Combine until well blended, and pour over green beans in casserole. Top with grated Swiss cheese. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

Share your recipe faves at Happy to Be At Home.

Menu Plan... Thanksgiving Week

More delicious menus at Laura's...

Sunday~ crockpot roast, baked potatoes, biscuits, tossed salad
Monday~ Open faced roast beef sandwiches (using roast from Sunday)
Tuesday~ Must-goes (gotta clean out the fridge for all the food about to go in it!), or if there aren't any 'must-goes', it'll be breakfast
Wednesday~ Soup & Sandwiches
Thursday~ THANKSGIVING DAY!!! All my boys will be home for the first time since early spring, and I am very excited. We'll eat at my parents' house: Roast turkey, honey baked ham, sweet potato casserole, rice & gravy, mashed potatoes, rolls, swiss beans, corn casserole, deviled eggs, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple-cherry pie, and sour cream pound cake. NO ONE will leave hungry.
Friday~ Steaks on the grill (boys' request), mashed potatoes, tossed salad, crescent rolls
Saturday~ Turkey day leftovers :)

Count all your blessings and savor the meals AND the moments!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Something amazing happened this week.
We followed the menu EXACTLY!!!! I should write it down somewhere, because that hardly ever happens. We'll see if this week is as successful....
Sunday~ Spaghetti, Caesar salad, garlic bread
Monday~ meatball grinders OR leftover spaghetti with meatballs (your choice)
Tuesday~ Chicken in mushroom gravy (crock pot!), egg noodles, broccoli, crescent rolls
Wednesday~ Breakfast: eggs, grits, bacon
Thursday~ Chili mac (chili from the freezer)
Friday~ Must-goes
Saturday~ Grilled burgers & sausages, butternut squash fries
Share what's cookin' in your kitchen at Menu Plan Monday!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Ah.... but God is good.

After a month or so in a pressure-cooker atmosphere at work, I am finally feeling able to relax. That is MAJOR.... things have been so crazily busy and insanely stressful, so I am very grateful for this.
I am treasuring time with my family more each week. Last weekend, son #2 came home on leave (Air Force). This weekend, son #1 was supposed to come home, as he will not be here for Thanksgiving (USMC)... however, he called to tell us he has duty, and won't be home until December around Christmas (not sure of the dates just yet). Being a Military Mom is hard! But I savor the moments that they are all here in a way that is so unexpected, and now so sweet.
God is so consistently good, in so many ways that I don't always realize.
Don't forget to count your blessings and share at
Thankful Thursday.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Monday . . . Menu Plan

It's November... officially Fall. Even down here, where the temps are usually warm, there's a crispness in the air, and at night, we dip into the 40s. Of course, next week, we could jump back up to 80 during the day, but that's the beauty of our weather... if you don't like it, just be patient. It won't be long before it changes. ;)
So a recap of last week:
Sunday's butternut squash slaw was yummy - perfect for a fall day. Monday's sticky chicken yielded enough leftovers for me to use this week too (woo hoo!). Tuesday, we watched election returns by a bowlful of leftover chili, which meant that Breakfast got pushed to Wednesday, and hubby had a meeting Thursday night, so it was just ds & me. Friday, hubby wanted to go out for pizza and Saturday went as planned. It was my goal last week NOT to eat out, and I almost made it. It had been a very crazy week at school, and going out to eat was somewhat of a stress reliever for hubby & me, so I relented.
This week.... I am EXCITED! It's the first week in a L-O-N-G while that I don't have something major happening - it's just a regular week at school (if there is such a thing with middle schoolers) - with Veteran's Day on Tuesday.
So the menu:
Sunday~ Pasta fagioli (I add meat to mine - this was leftover from 3 weeks ago when I made a huge batch and froze the leftovers) and grilled cheese
Monday~ Club salad and twice baked potatoes that we never got to...
Tuesday~ VETERAN'S DAY HOLIDAY - Thank a Vet!!! Marinated flank steak, baked potatoes, tossed salad, and some kind of patriotic dessert (probably something with apples, since they are in season)
Wednesday~ Chicken noodle soup (from a mix, using leftover sticky chicken from last week!), biscuits
Thursday~ Waffles, bacon, scrambled eggs
Friday~ TBA
Saturday~ our local Greek Festival - YUMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What are YOU cookin'? Get inspired at Laura's Menu Plan Monday.

A Scrumptious Sunday!!!

What a fun thing to participate in - the Scrumptious Sunday Swap - hosted by Happy to Be At Home.

So here's my recipe - I tried it last week with my family, and it was unusual, but we all liked it. And it uses seasonal ingredients, AND it's healthy!! How can you beat that???

Butternut Squash Coleslaw with Honey Goat Cheese Dressing

(from Tyler Florence on Food Network)

4 ounces fresh creamy goat cheese, room temperature (I did not have this, so I omitted it)
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium butternut squash
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

Special equipment: mandoline (another thing I did not have - I just used my food processor)

In a large mixing bowl, combine goat cheese, honey, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Stir well with a whisk until fully combined and creamy.

Remove the top narrow portion of the butternut squash and peel. Discard or use the bulb portion for something else. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut the peeled cylinder into fine long matchsticks (julienne). This should yield about 4 cups. Fold into the cheese dressing along with dried cranberries, walnuts and chopped fresh parsley.

This looks like a variation on carrot salad, because of the bright orange color of the squash. It is crunchy because it is raw, and a little sweet. The cranberries add a yummy punch and the toasted walnuts give just the right crunch. I did add a touch of brown sugar to sweeten it up.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Monday's Menu Plan

Well, even though I didn't post last week, we did actually eat. Ds#3's birthday was Monday, so we went out. Tuesday night was a HUGE county-wide concert for me. Wednesday was out again, Thursday was spaghetti, Friday was out again, and Saturday was lasagna. Crazy busy, but we survived. This week should be MUCH calmer.
Sunday~ family celebration of ds#3's birthday: chili, mac'n'cheese, butternut squash coleslaw (this looked so yummy that I just had to try it!), cornbread, and cupcakes.
Monday~ sticky chicken in the crockpot (based on this recipe), rice, tossed salad
Tuesday~ breakfast for dinner: waffles, eggs, bacon, grits
Wednesday~ twice baked sweet potatoes, turkey, and something green
Thursday~ mashed potatoes from the freezer, beef tips and gravy with mushrooms and pearl onions (cooked in the crockpot)
Friday~ concert that day at school - MUST GOES for dinner! (anything that 'must go')
Saturday~ beef tenderloin on the grill, baked potatoes, green salad, rolls
More menu madness at Laura's!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday is always such a blessing to me.
And when life is frazzled and hectic, I feel like I need to count every blessing I have.

I am thankful for my sons. There was a time that I lamented having no daughters. But now, I realize that God gave me exactly what I needed and that I am well suited to be the mom of boys.

I am thankful for my husband. Many would consider him a diamond in the rough, but to me, he is a true gem - a balance for me, helping me stay grounded and real.

I am thankful for my job, even though it is often a source of stress for me. God supplies all I need to do it.

Take time to count your blessings today.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Roller Coaster

Oh, the agony of watching my son wait for friends that were supposed to be here an hour ago...
catching him crying in the garage because he thinks they forgot...
wanting to cry along with him....
and then the relief when I tell him I've called and they are on their way....
and the ecstasy when they finally arrive...
and the agony again of not wanting to sleep....
and the tears of being uncomfortable in a room where they insisted on building a 'fort' with the door closed....
and then the quiet after they are all emotionally spent.
The Birthday Sleepover.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I can't believe that October is almost over... and we will be celebrating my baby's 8th birthday. WOW... it doesn't seem like it could have been that long ago.
We've got another eventful week ahead. Check out more menus on Menu Plan Monday!
Sunday~ sandwiches & chips (Hubby had a work day at a local cemetery with his History Club, and we have an entire SIX FOOT SUB left over... so that will cover lunches for the week!!)
Monday~ Pasta fagioli (I add beef to mine), breadsticks
Tuesday~ BBQ pork sandwiches, pasta salad
Wednesday~ Turkey club salads, twice baked potatoes
Thursday~ Fend for Yourself - mom's got rehearsal!
Friday~ ds#3's birthday celebration begins: pizza for buddies who are spending the night
Saturday~ after a birthday party with friends, we will be going to the FAIR!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Menu... Monday... PLAN!

It's October. It is amazing to me... how time flies, yet can drag on a daily basis. This is a very busy week (next week will be also), so I'm planning accordingly. I'll be using the crock pot and food from the freezer this week to make things go a little smoother.
Last week... son #2 ended up taking us out to eat on Wednesday as his treat before he had to report to his base, so we enjoyed that, and he was proud that he could treat us. The jewelry party previously scheduled for Friday was canceled, as I was feeling under the weather, and darling hubby brought dinner home.
On to this week...
Sunday~ out to eat (son #3 went to a birthday party, so it was just hubby & me)
Monday~ chicken breasts with mushroom gravy (like this recipe without the mustard, and in the crock), egg noodles, tossed salad, crescent rolls
Tuesday~ concert at school, includes pizza & drinks!
Wednesday~ breakfast for dinner: waffles, hashbrown casserole, bacon, eggs
Thursday~ must-goes OR roast & mashed potatoes from the freezer (Mom has an evening rehearsal)
Friday~ Soup & sandwiches that I never made last week
Saturday~ Beef tenderloin on the grill, baked potatoes, broccoli

Check out more menu marvelous-ness at Menu Plan Monday!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Monday, Monday, Monday... Menu, Menu, Menu

Isn't the new "fall banner" from Organized Junkie just too cute???! It makes me feel autumnal... even though here, we don't really get an official SEASON of fall... it's more like a few days of cooler temps and then more HOT, and then BOOM! It's winter. Anyway, it's time to plan another menu, so here goes.
Sunday~ another roast in the crock pot, with pearl onions and mushrooms, served over mashed potatoes, and a green salad on the side.
Monday~ I have learned that Mondays require the crock pot. Or else my husband will look at me and say, "You're too tired to cook" (which is true) and then "Let's go out to dinner" (and I cave). So this Monday, it's Brown Sugar Chicken, which is like a teriyaki style chicken. We'll have rice and steamed broccoli to go with.
Tuesday~ Pasta carbonara, tossed salad, breadsticks (my recipe is loosely based on Robin Miller's, but I don't make it as saucy, and I usually add a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese because I love it!)
Wednesday~ Soup & sandwiches (we're having those 'fake fall' temperatures that make me think I might actually see some changing leaves...)
Thursday~ Pizza and cheese sticks from the freezer.
Friday~ supposed to be a jewelry party originally planned for August, but we never made it. So if no one gets sick and the river don't rise... we'll have a houseful of ladies eating lady-style finger foods and the boys will probably run away and fend for themselves. With burgers & fries or something.
Saturday~ probably either leftovers or something on the grill.
What's cookin' at your house? Share at Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Thankful Thursday

My son is home. YEA!!!!!!!! He graduated from Air Force basic training in June, and we have not seen him since then. Before that, it was April. We missed him terribly and are thrilled to have him home for a couple of weeks.

I have also had some technical issues at school, and those are now resolved. Which makes my life much easier.

And finally, my classes seem to have settled down just enough to make them a little more tolerable... things are still crazy, but should start to taper off, and we can all begin to get into a routine of sorts. I think.

Thank you, God, that your grace is sufficient for me.
Share your thanks at Thankful Thursday.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Monday... MENU!!!

Last week, I did not even post a menu plan. We did, however, eat! In fact, we ate roast with gravy on Sunday, went out on Monday (L-O-N-G Story - not planned, but necessary), ate homemade breakfast skillets on Tuesday (potatoes, scrambled eggs, sauteed 'shrooms, bell peppers, etc.), inherited food from my grandmother on Wednesday, had penne w/meat sauce on Thursday, pizza on Friday, and chicken on Saturday. :)
That brings us to this week.
Sunday~ BBQ chicken, collard greens (from our garden), rice, cornbread, tossed salad
Monday~ Burgers on the grill pan, chips or pasta salad
Tuesday~ son #2 comes home on leave from USAF... we will grill steaks, have mashed potatoes, tossed salad, and bread. Ice cream cake to top off our celebration (we've not seen him since June).
Wednesday~ hubby has class, so something simple - it will probably be just ds#3 and me.
Thursday~ Breakfast for dinner: waffles, sausage, hashbrown casserole, eggs
Friday~ Chili
Saturday~ Fish Fry at my parents' house

Check out other fantastic menus at Menu Plan Monday!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Frugal Friday Question

I don't have anything earth-shattering to share on this Frugal Friday post, but I do have a question that begs a frugal solution.
I have been given some vegetables - broccoli, carrots, cauliflower,and squash - that have already been cooked. Now this may sound deliciously delightful to some, but my family will not eat any of those veggies except broccoli. My husband will not touch cauliflower. No way. Childhood nightmares. So, here's my question:
What can I do with these vegetables???? I do not want to throw them away... I would bear the shame of wasted food when there are children starving in Africa, and even some in our own city. What can I do with them? Please, frugal mavens, help me!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday

I am so far behind in posting that it's not even funny.... but I decided I would post about this:
I got an immersion blender for my birthday earlier this month. I asked for one - and I am so glad I did!!! I have been wanting to try making smoothies for a while - mostly because I know we need more fruits in our diet, and I figured this would be an easy way to get them in. I'm still working on ds#3 - no seeds or fruit remnants for him - but dh & I have been loving them for breakfast. Strawberry, blueberry, mixed berry, peach... you name it and we're making it!!!

What's working for you? Share, and view more great ideas at Rocks In My Dryer.
(Have I mentioned how much I love the name of that blog???)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's another Menu Plan Monday

Last week....
Tuesday night, hubby had a lecture to attend, which I had forgotten about, so ds#3 and I shared a frozen pizza. Friday night, I had planned to cook, then hubby wanted to go out, then after work we were all DOG TIRED, so I nuked a lasagna and we stayed in. And went out Saturday night. And it wasn't even that good. Which only reinforces my desire to eat at home... where I control the quality of our food.
So, this week:
Sunday~ Spaghetti again, and some yummy zucchini fries
Monday~ Club sandwiches, pasta salad or chips
Tuesday~ Beef stroganoff in the crockpot over egg noodles, tossed salad
I make my stroganoff using cubed beef, a can of brown or mushroom gravy (NOT cream of), and sour cream. Add mushrooms and any other herbs you like. Sooooo easy.
Wednesday~ Hubby has class, so ds & I will probably have something very simple - maybe pancakes.

Thursday, Friday & Saturday, hubby will be out of town at a conference. So my plan is to clean out the fridge, use up the leftovers, and maybe experiment with a gorgeous eggplant I need to use.

How 'bout you? What's cookin' this week? Visit Organized Junkie for more fabulous ideas.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Another Monday, another menu

Have I mentioned lately how tired I am since school has started? I'm even taking vitamins, and I'm so exhausted when I fall into bed at night that I go right to sleep. Alas, we plod onward. And pray that we are supernaturally rejuvenated!

So last week's menu was pretty much a bust. I did make the shepherd's pie, but I used leftover roast instead of ground beef. We went out to eat for my birthday, and then again on Thursday night just because hubby insisted, and Friday, we ate leftovers. Saturday, we got adventurous and had steak on the grill. My plan is for this week to be a little better.

Sunday~ Spaghetti and meatballs with homemade tomato sauce, tossed salad, garlic bread
Monday~ Steak salad (using leftover steak from Saturday), loaded baked potatoes
Tuesday~ Hubby has a lecture to attend, so it will be just son & me, so we'll have pizza from the freezer.
Wednesday~ Breakfast. I have a yummy hashbrown casserole to try.
Thursday~ Open house at son's elementary school ... something super fast - Pork BBQ sandwiches & fries
Friday~ Tacos

Check out Organized Junkie for menu inspiration of all kinds!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Frugal Friday... better late than never...

On being frugal and practical....
I can't say how exhausted I have been on Friday since school has begun again. Getting back in the school year routine always takes some time. But I've been teaching for 17 years (GASP - it's hard to believe I've been doing ANYTHING besides just LIVING that long!) and I have never been as tired as I am this year.

My sweet and darling son has become an absolute BEAR in the afternoon. Or evening, really - it's after 5pm when I pick him up because our genius school board decided that we should start and end school an hour later. So my baby is starving and on the verge of a meltdown. His daddy is not much better. And I am already tired so I am in no mood for it. What's the answer?

Well, this week, it has been going out to eat.
I'm almost ashamed to say it. It hasn't been extravagant places - they've been pretty cheap, actually. But it hasn't been homecooked meals. Somebody else has made our food. And I've paid them to do it.

Sometimes, ya just gotta survive. I'll get back to cooking next week.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Watching Gustav and Menu Planning...

We've been watching Hurricane Gustav... looking to see if he'll turn or stay on his current path. So far, it looks like we are out of the 'worry zone'. It's been very breezy all day but not too much rain - I guess that will come in later. Yes, hurricane season in Hurricane Alley. We are here.

This week is a very light week as far as cooking goes. My birthday is this week so I get treated to lots of meals out of the kitchen! ;)
Sunday~ out with hubby to a fave local spot
Monday~ Labor Day Holiday - hotdogs and baked beans, probably from inside because we're expecting lots of tropical moisture....
Tuesday~ Beef stroganoff over egg noodles, mushrooms, salad, broccoli
Wednesday~ my birthday - out to eat here.... ever had fried pickles???
Thursday~ Loaded potatoes and tossed salad
Friday~ jewelry party for the girls... finger foods (the boys will go somewhere else!!)
Saturday~ Empanadas (first time with this recipe - I'll be using ground beef instead of turkey)
Be sure to visit Organized Junkie for inspiring menus!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.
That is what I can say about last week.

Having my menus planned and lots of stuff ready to go in the freezer really saved me at meal time. We get home an hour later this year, and everybody is RAVENOUS when we walk in the door. We followed the plan really well - ended up going out for pizza on Friday night, and Saturday, I made baked spaghetti from Monday night's leftovers (just layered spaghetti noodles, sauce, and shredded cheese until the dish was full and leftovers were used up. Baked at 325 until cheese was bubbly and everything was heated through).
On to this week:
Sunday~ Sticky chicken (I use bone-in chicken breasts), twice baked potatoes (from the freezer), zipper peas from our garden, homemade cornbread.
Monday~ Roast in the crock pot, mashed potatatoes (from the freezer), tossed salad, rolls.
Tuesday~ Open-faced roast beef sandwiches with gravy (leftovers from Monday!).
Wednesday~ Hubby's first night of graduate classes - son #3 and I will probably have leftovers.
Thursday~ if it rains like it is forecast to do, Taco Soup. If not, Chicken salad (made from Sunday's leftovers).
Friday~ OUT TO EAT - we are celebrating PAYDAY ! ! ! !
Saturday~ out with the fam for my birthday (which actually isn't until next week)
Check out Organized Junkie for more menu inspiration - and have a GREAT week!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Frugal Friday

Well, it is Friday. And as I said in my post yesterday, I am SUPREMELY thankful. God has blessed me this week, but I am relieved to see the weekend come so that we can sleep in a little bit, and unwind a little bit, and play a little too.

My frugal tip this week is about packing lunches for school. I have been pleased with my own resourcefulness this week as I have tried to provide good lunches for my son, my husband, and myself back at school.

I made a big bowl of pasta salad on Sunday, and dear hubby has taken it all week to work. This has been a nice comfort to him because he loves pasta salad, and it has been a stressful week.

Darling son has taken turkey rolled around cheese, water, homemade cookies, and crackers (or some variation thereof) and been perfectly content. He actually likes to have the same kind of lunch every day. Variety in 'dessert' is okay, but he pretty much likes everything else to be the same.

And because I have a fridge and a microwave in my office, I have been able to take leftovers from dinner this week. So we've not spent any money eating out - woo hoo!

What's your frugal idea for the week? Share at!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thankful Thursday

This week, I am thankful for a couple of very specific things.
This has been the first week of school with students for us, and I have not been this exhausted in a long time. I have enormous classes.... I teach chorus, so large classes with performing groups is to be expected, but I also have some extremely large Music Appreciation classes. In all, I'm seeing over 200 students a day. Middle school students. Emotional, hormonal, dramatic middle school students.
I am thankful that God has helped me keep a positive attitude when it would have been just as easy to be sour.
I am thankful that my husband and I have purposed to pray together every day for God's grace to sustain us through the day.
I am thankful that my darling 2nd grader has had a fantastic week.
And lastly, I am thankful that FRIDAY IS ALMOST HERE !!!!!
Share your blessings at Thankful Thursday.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Time for Menu Plan!

If you could see all the arrows on my calendar pointing to rearranged dinners, you would laugh. Out loud.
Flexibility is the name of the game... and having everything on hand to prepare meals without having to dash to the store has helped me watch our pennies as we wait for the first payday since June!
Hubby and I went back to work this week, and our youngest son resumed his routine at his daycare. They had several field trips this week, so that made it a little more palatable. We, however, dealt with numerous stressors as we prepare for students to arrive on Monday.
Deep breath.
Our school hours have changed this year because the school district says it can save big $$ this way. We will now be getting home around 5 p.m. I'm not EVEN going to get started on my feelings here, but I will say that being prepared for dinner will be ESSENTIAL if I am going to keep my lovely family from going into a meltdown in the evenings.
Sunday~ Red beans and rice with sausage (did not get cooked on Saturday - we had leftovers instead)
Monday~ Spaghetti with meatballs, caesar salad, garlic bread - the sauce will cook in the crock pot while we're at school (this is true comfort food in our house, and we will need it, as it is the first day back to school with students)
Tuesday~ Chicken in mushroom gravy, egg noodles, broccoli, crescent rolls
Wednesday~ Our old standby of breakfast for dinner
Thursday~ Marinated flank steak, twice baked potatoes from the freezer, salad
Friday~ I'm not sure... if we're living and breathing by then, we may just have pizza.
Saturday~ TBA

Friday, August 15, 2008

Frugal Friday...having a plan

My darling husband loves to go out to eat. He just does. However, I am also a pretty proficient cook, and can usually replicate a darn good dinner for a fraction of what it would cost to go out.

So hubby says to me, "Wanna go out to eat tonight?" (It is the end of our first week back to work, and that has been somewhat stressful.)
We chat about what he has in mind, and I say, "Let me think about it."

So I think about what he wants.... he wants to go to a quaint Italian place close to our house and have pizza. Well, I have pizza in the freezer. I also have cheese sticks, and 'fried' mushrooms - both of which he loves. So I think that tonight, we'll eat in.

I have learned to always have a plan. I can change it if I want to, but having one usually saves me a lot of money! Visit Frugal Friday for more tips!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Six Random Things...

Kate at A Simple Walk tagged me to share 6 random things about myself. When I am done, I get to tag 6 more people to play along. So, here goes, six random things about me:

1. I adore chocolate. It makes me feel better. YES, I need it.

2. I love to sing. When I lose my voice, I feel like I will die because I cannot express myself in song. Bizarre, maybe. Music is truly the language of my soul.

3. In high school, I thought it would be a waste to go to college... instead, I'd just get married after graduation and have kids. Never mind that I didn't even have a boyfriend. (I never told my parents about these plans. I am sure they would not have approved.) **If this happens to be your story, please do not feel that I am implying anything negative about your choice. This is simply VERY different from the way my own life turned out.**

4. I have considered shaving my head. You can read more of that story here.

5. I was probably the most unattached pregnant woman I have ever known. I was not in love with the baby inside me. I was too busy throwing up and wishing I could feel better to care that he could be wonderful. (After he was born, all that changed. But for those nine months..... ugh.)

6. I wish I looked good without makeup. My sister is gorgeous when she wakes up in the morning. I am not. I need some help. Mascara, eyeliner, and blush are my friends.

Okay. Here are my six:
1. Kiy at Rocking Chairs & a Tricycle
2. Audra at Krellfish
3. Carolyn at Scrapping Servant
4. Toni at The Happy Housewife
5. Diane at Forgetful One
6. Jubilee at Notes of Jubilee

Have fun with it! ;)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

It's Menu Plan Monday. I learned in a recent Bible Study to associate "Monday" with "Attitude" - a positive one, that is! So as I savor my last moments of summer vacation, I am going to practice having a good attitude.
Last week's menu was an interesting time. I spent Monday shuttling my grandmother back and forth to the doctor, so it was nice to know what we were having for dinner without having to think about it. Tuesday, my darling husband decided to surprise me with a dinner at one of our favorite spots, The Melting Pot. On Wednesday, my youngest brother came from Charlotte to visit the family here, so we gathered at What-a-burger for buy-one-get-one-free night. That meant that Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were all shuffled around! Once again, hubby loved the Bourbon Chicken (which, by the way, has no bourbon in it), and dear Marine Son requested the tenderloin on the grill, which brought us to Saturday, and that was a hodge podge of trying to use up leftovers in the fridge.
Because... hubby decided we should have family gathering before Marine Son leaves on Tuesday. So that means we need room for everything that will go in it on Sunday (the day of the cookout).

So the plan for this week.
We go back to school on Tuesday - but no students until the following week.

Sunday~ family dinner. Hubby will grill burgers, dogs, and sausages. My mom is bringing potato salad (she makes the BEST), sister is bringing baked beans, grandmother is bringing buns and ice cream. We will also have chips, and I will make cookies and this dessert from Cooking Light. Perfect with or without the ice cream.

Monday~ Penne with chicken and pesto, tossed salad, garlic bread. (We tried this for the first time last month and really liked it; I will make more sauce because we wanted more for the pasta!)

Tuesday~ Either leftovers or pork BBQ sandwiches (made in the crockpot) with chips or any remaining side dishes from the cookout the day before. (I have a meeting after school, so I need dinner to be readily available to hubby & son #3 just in case I'm home later than expected.)

Wednesday~ Breakfast for Dinner.

Thursday~ Pizza for the boys. I will take a side dish to a Bible Study.

Friday~ Sandwiches and pasta salad.

Saturday~ Red beans and rice with sausage.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

It's another Monday.... and you know what that means!!! Hop over to Laura's to get inspired with tons of ideas for your menu.

So about last week....
the menu went fine - I didn't make the A-1 & Dijon steak recipe; we ended up with good ol' spaghetti instead. But everything else went pretty much according to plan. The boys ordered pizza while I was at the Beth Moore simulcast on Friday (which, by the way, was AMAZING!!), and Saturday, we made BBQ chicken sandwiches from leftover lemon & herb chicken.

And on to this week.....
Sunday~ Leftovers: BBQ chicken sandwiches, pasta salad, mac'n'cheese, anything in the fridge
(hubby was sick so I didn't really cook.)
Monday~ Tacos & nachos
Tuesday~ Bourbon chicken, rice, zipper peas (from our garden), garlic biscuits
Wednesday~ Breakfast for dinner
Thursday~ Beef tenderloin on the grill, mashed potatoes, tossed salad, texas toast
Friday~ Sandwiches & chips (if there's any tenderloin left, we'll get fancy with the sandwiches. If not, it'll just be turkey!)
Saturday~ Pork BBQ sandwiches, baked beans

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Furgal Friday

This week, my Frugal Friday tip is about menu planning.
As you probably know, resources about planning meal menus at home are plentiful - perhaps overwhelming. But today I'm going to share a little of what I've learned to apply in my own life... this is tried-and-true, and helped me save my sanity!

When I was single, I would decide what I wanted to eat based on what I felt like eating. If I couldn't find something at my house, I'd go out.

When I got married, I got a husband and an instant family overnight. My husband had two young boys - ages 6 & 8. The only children I had were the ones I taught at school...but I never had to bring any of them home with me. So in the afternoons, after teaching all day, I'd pick the boys up from school. Hubby worked construction, so his arrival home would vary. As soon as we hit the front door, it would start.

Boys: "What're we having for dinner?"
Me: "Why? Are you hungry?"
Boys: "No ma'am."
Me: "Then why do you want to know what we're having if you're not even hungry?" (See how naive I was?????)
Boys: "We just wanna know."
Me: "Well, I'll let you know when I figure it out." (Yeah. Nice answer. Never let 'em see ya sweat.)

So I'd go to the refrigerator. And I'd stand there, with the door open. Waiting. Hoping for inspiration to strike. And you know what? It never did.

After about a year, (yes, I'm a quick learner), I realized I needed a plan. I knew nothing about menu planning. My mother was always at home. I never thought about what she did all day, and she never told me what happened when I was at school. I was clueless. So I began to look for resources, and I found a couple of books that talked about knowing what to fix for dinner before dinnertime actually arrived. What an intriguing idea! The kids had been banned from asking me THAT question anymore. The words "What's for dinner" sent me into a deplorable mood. Could this actually be a solution????

I got a calendar. I made a list. I asked everyone what their favorite meal was (McDonald's did not count. Neither did Pizza Hut.) I put the meals on the calendar, and decided what side dishes would go with them. Then I made a grocery list, and I bought what I needed to make the meals for about a week. And when dinnertime came, I knew what to do. WOO HOO!!!!

I also discovered that this saved us LOTS of money.
And I have adapted this strategy over the last 14 years of my marriage. And in times when we needed to watch our pennies, having a menu plan has proved invaluable. So if you think you can't do it, give it a try.... once you get started, it just might make dinnertime a little less stressful.

If you're still with me here, I've planned out our menu for the month of August. (Because now hubby & I
both teach, and we don't get another paycheck until the end of August!!) I've left some days blank, because we invariably have leftovers, and sometimes thing change. But we have a PLAN, so I'm never caught flat-footed. (If you'd like a copy of my menu - it's purely based on food my family likes - I will be happy to send it to you. Just let me know.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Big boy, little boy, Daddy.
More wordlessness here.

Tackle It Tuesday

The first tackle is a request to pray for Carolyn, who usually inspires everyone with her tackles at 5 Minutes for Mom. She's been battling depression and could use some help.

Next, for me...
In a household of two teachers, during the summertime, we must be careful to budget because we do not receive a paycheck. And the month of August always seems to bring an extra degree of belt-tightening.

So, I've decided to plan out the menus for the month, every day. I will do a big shopping trip this weekend, and will do my best NOT to grocery shop again until the end of the month.

When my big boys were young, I used to do this all the time, and got pretty good at it. The trick is, once you've got all the items for your menus, you don't need to "pick up some milk" and come home with $40 worth of other items. And the temptation to eat out, unless it is planned for, is eliminated, because I know what we're eating and it's probably already cooking. We won't be eating beans and rice everyday (although it is on the menu this month!) and I think with our garden, we'll be able to keep a pretty good selection of produce around. And it will definitely help our checkbook.

What are you tackling?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Menu Plan Monday!

This week will be a gentle nudge back into the school year routine. I'll be at a workshop all week, every day from 9-2, so I've got lots of meals planned using my favorite kitchen appliance, the crockpot. But first, a recap from last week!
The bacon & cheese chicken recipe was okay. My husband is pretty finicky when it comes to chicken, so I was okay with this.... two out of the last three chicken recipes have been a hit, so I'm not too disappointed. People who love chicken will probably like this just fine. The rest of the menu went just according to plan, which was good!
So for this week:
Sun~ Beef brisket (from the freezer), egg noodles, gravy w/sliced mushrooms, corn on the cob, tossed salad, biscuits
Mon~ Lemon & Herb chicken (crockpot), rice, homemade bread, broccoli
Tues~ Hamburgers on the grill pan, pasta salad
Wed~ A-1 and Dijon Steak, (crockpot again!!), mashed potatoes, broccoli w/cheese, crescent rolls
Thurs~ Pancakes & bacon. Marine Son comes home on leave!!! :)
Fri~ Fend For Yourself! I'll be attending a Beth Moore simulcast, so the boys will fend for themselves while I'm out.
Sat~ TBA... a lot depends on what Son #1 wants. We are so excited to have him home!
What are you cooking this week? Check out Organized Junkie for tons of ideas!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Frugal Friday

I told my husband about two weeks ago that I was not going to the grocery store again until the end of the month. I had purchased everything that I thought we would need, and we would make do until August 1st.

Then I needed to make food for a grieving family. So I checked my freezer and found a turkey bought on sale, and I roasted that. (I did go buy disposable containers so they did not have to worry about giving me back my dishes.) I raided our stash of garden peas and made a huge pot. Everything I took, I already had in our freezer or pantry.

This weekend, I need to make a layered bean dip for a family birthday party. Well, I do not have any refried beans. So... I looked in my pantry. I had a large bag of dried pintos. Yesterday I cooked them in the crock pot and today I will smash them up with some spices and use them in the dip. The only thing I'll need is cheese to top it off. (My guys are like mice - they eat cheese fiendishly so we are out of that.)

We are also out of bread. I am not an expert bread baker, but thankfully, I do have a bread machine. So this morning, I put the ingredients in the bread maker, and we should have a fresh loaf by noon. (I let it go through the 'dough' cycle on the machine, then put in a loaf pan to bake in the oven. We prefer the texture of the oven-baked bread.)

How are you exercising frugality?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thankful Thursday

This week's Thankful Thursday is about random thankfulness... which I feel deeply today.

After the events of the past week, and having to sing at a funeral for a baby, I am so appreciative of the time the God has given me with my own children. Being a mother is not something I really ever aspired to - because I taught young children for so many years, I wasn't sure I wanted to come home to a brood of my own! But God granted me the privilege of mothering 3 boys. Boys... the ones I felt least equipped for... He has shown His grace and strength in the midst of my weaknesses.

My oldest son just called today, to say that he is taking leave (after finishing a school) and will be home for two weeks, beginning next week. It thrills my heart to know that home is where he wants to be.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday

Today, what works for me, is a great haircut.
I am notorious for neglecting my hair and then getting to the point that I am ready to shave it all off in favor of a wig.
Now, I don't really want to shave my head. It just seems that it would make life simpler sometimes. You see, I have baby-fine hair. I have lots of it, but it is superfine. So all of the really cute hairstyles that I love will not work on my hair.
My hair is also super straight. Like "who-needs-a-flat-iron-when-your-hair-is-this-straight" straight. So hairstyles are a challenge. Because my hair will never do what I want it to do, so I have had to learn to like what it will do. Sometimes. And in order to get it to do what it can do, it needs a good haircut. Which I got today.
So what works for you?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tribute Tuesday

Tribute Tuesday is being hosted by Jubilee. This is new to me, but something I can easily join in to do! My husband is a former Marine. My oldest son is currently a Marine, and my second son is a (new in June) Airman. You might think we're a little conflicted, representing two branches of the military in our family, but the interesting thing is, each boy chose what suited him best.

The curious thing is that we never stressed military service to our boys. We have not been the sort of family that said, "Your father did it, and this is what you will do." We did teach them to be responsible, to love our country, and appreciate the freedoms we enjoy. We wanted them to go to college! And they did.... for a while. But they each chose the path to serve our country, and are doing so in very different ways.

I have always been thankful for the men and women who serve and defend our country. Perhaps because I have lived in 'military towns' all my life, I have always been keenly aware of the sacrifice these people - and their families - make, on a daily basis. Having two boys in the military at this time of unrest in so many places, it can make a mother nervous. But I am so incredibly proud of my sons, and daily, I pray for their protection, as well as the protection of their friends and so many others who serve.

So my tribute today is first to my husband, who is very proud of his time in the USMC, and who did such a wonderful job of teaching our boys to love their country, and that service - in whatever form it takes - is important. And my boys, as well. Their careers in the military are new... but they have made a choice, and as one of them told me, "It is an honorable thing to do."