Monday, December 15, 2014

Menu Monday - 12/15

Menu  Monday!

It's the time in my week where I look at the calendar, take a deep breath, plot, plan and organize the Tribe. I can see we've 3 basketball games, 3 hair appointments, 2 dentist appointments and 2 potlucks to contribute to. And that's just the next 4 days. Wait till this weekend when it's gonna be all super cra-zeee. It is GrAdUaTiOn weekend for the husband o' mine! (more on that special occasion later!)

So it's not fancy this week.
You're not gonna be impressed.
But maybe, just maybe, if you can, you'll remember that even in the hectic weeks, creating space to gather the family around the table together is even more precious! 

Here's what we're eating this week:

Monday - Pigs in a Blanket & french fries
Tuesday - Mozzarella Penne & Garlic Toast (Making it Ahead!)
Wednesday - Pot Roast with Roasted potatoes & carrots, Garlic biscuits & Freezer Corn (Crockpot)
Thursday - Ham & Cheesy Potato Casserole (Making it Ahead!)

Am making my son his 16th birthday cupcakes (now that his mouth is open again)
Ham & Cheese Overnight Breakfast Enchiladas are coming with me to the Office Breakfast
This awesome snack mix went to the Music Boosters Bake Sale

ah! Now - to plan the Christmas Baking!

And check out for her HUGE Menu Monday link-up!

Follow my Tribe-Approved recipes on my Pinterest.
Follow Stephanie Sikorski's board For My Recipe Box on Pinterest.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Menu Monday - Must Knows

It's Thanksgiving this week. All roads lead to Turkey. And Grandma Mac's stuffing. So as I prepare my menu this week I sort have very little interest in
Tuesday or
Seriously, let's just talk Thanksgiving.

So this week for Menu Monday, instead of highlighting my menu I thought I would share with you my secrets to surviving busy weeks.

There's one thing you need to know: OVERprepare
for example:

1. Make more biscuits than you'll eat for dinner. Because if you fry and egg, slap some cheese on it - and maybe some ham the next morning - you have a hot breakfast.

2. Frying hamburger? Make more than you need. Keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks for tacos, sloppy joes, etc in a snap! (I do this with sausage too!)

3. Make your own Yogurt Parfaits the night before. Your favorite frozen fruit + your favorite vanilla yogurt in lil mason jars lined up in the fridge are way easier to take on the fly. Forget the drive-thru.

4. Left over roast? Becomes Stroganoff or Beef n Noodles! and all you have to do is take the time to boil noodles.

5. Use your crockpot! I love throwing chicken breasts in with water or broth and letting it cook all day. Then every recipe in the world that calls for cooked chicken is no problem! Chicken and rice. Yep. Chicken enchiladas. Sure! But always, we serve the chicken the first time as shredded chicken sandwiches. With toasted buns and montery jack cheese? Get in my belly.
visit OrgJunkie for Awesome Menu Plan Link UP!

6. Potatoes. Roasted reds or Yukons are my favorite. But I always make too many. That's because red potatoes quesadillas or omelets? Yes, please. Also, potato soup. 

Seriously, why cook twice? Over cook once and you can spend half as much time in the kitchen later. Every short-cut counts. I hope these tips help make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable too.

Click over to my Pinterest Recipe Box for all my Family's favorites!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Menu Monday 11/10/14

This weekend afforded me the luxury of thoughtful grocery shopping and menu planning. Which is a relief since fall tends to be an active season for the members of our family.
Now, a lull.
Which I appreciate. However, now that some of our activities our coming to an end, that means more family members will be home in the evening for dinner. So, what will this working mom of 5 feed her Tribe? Well check out the menu below - chock full of links - including a link to my favorite Pinterest board For my Recipe Box. That board is full of all these recipes and all the Tribe approved recipes the family has approved!

Whatever your week brings I hope you get a chance to share a meal, swap some stories and nourish your family!

Sunday - Fluffy French Toast with Texas Toast (the flour really does make a nice difference!) with strawberries & whip cream

Sunday Crockpot - because I had leftover roast I tried this Crockpot Homemade Vegetable Stew recipe from Stockpiling Moms. because I tried this recipe I wanted bread to go with it. because I wanted bread, I broke my usual habit of staying out of the kitchen on Sundays. the honey butter alone, made this totally worth the work.

Monday - Crockpot Meatloaf, potatoes, corn casserole & the remainder of the rolls from Sunday. Also, I made a new dessert. I didn't tell my kids it was coconut and they snarfed it up! Check it out on  Stockpiling Moms.

be sure to check out this huge recipe link-up
Tuesday - Meatball Subs (for the kids) & Frisco Melts (made with thinly sliced leftover meatloaf) for the grownups. Served with Onion Rings.

Wednesday - Mozzarella Penne from liluna with Texas Toast from Six Sisters' Stuff and a nice salad.

Thursday - One Pot Chicken Dinner (this is a new recipe to the family. I hope they like it!)

Friday - Pizza Night (we might order out to celebrate - IF my son gets released from the doc to eat!)

Saturday - Haystacks from Taste of Home.

What are you cooking this week? I'd love to swap recipes! 

Thursday, November 6, 2014


My 15 year old son has a big beef with me. He doesn't have a smart phone. He helps with a 10 year old girls basketball league and he informed me that every little girl on that team has an iPhone. 
"Everyone?" I said.  "10 of them", he said. 
He's miffed. The world is so unfair. He's got his fingers crossed that one will find his way into his stocking this Christmas and while I'm still on the fence about that it did remind me about a parenting article I wrote 2 years ago about the struggle of parenting kids and phones. 
I'm posting it for #TBT
Question: How young is too young for an iPhone? I'd love to hear your thoughts:

Modern Parenting

Each generation has its own set of gaps. My daughter, just like I did, thinks her parents are embarrassingly outdated and totally lame.
Wait, do kids these days say "lame" anymore?
Yet no matter how difficult I and my siblings were to our parents, my mom and dad had it easy compared to modern day parents like me. How do I know? Because we had a family phone.
When I was a kid and I wanted to talk to my friends they had to call my house where my mother would answer the phone and ask, "Who's calling?" It was impossible to have a telephone conversation with my friends outside of my nosey parents' realm of authority. Sure I'd stretch the cord (remember when telephones were connected to the wall?) into the hallway and try and get out of earshot but even then no conversation was private. That lack of privacy meant I edited my conversations. I didn't cuss or lie or gossip for fear of being overheard. If I had my mother would have yanked the phone out of my ear and hung up on my friend or worse, picked up the other line to listen in!
Today kids don't use house phones; they have cell phones. Which means it is virtually impossible for parents to eavesdrop. Which means kids don't have to use their filter. Which means there is an awful lot of inappropriateness going on.
For starters, because my child doesn't have to go through me anymore to have phone or text conversations, I really have no idea who she is talking to, when and how much. My mom used to enforce a 'no phone calls after 9:00 p.m' rule. She'd even answer the phone and tell my friends who called too late that I was unavailable. The best I can do now is confiscate my child's phone. And trust me I do. I paid for that phone, I pay for the ongoing service to that phone, I will therefore have 24/7 access to the phone.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Words. Again.

I <3 Rhonna Designs app!

Last week I confessed my love for words.

Let me tell you how I start my work day.... 

Recently I went from a flexible, part-time, one-woman office to a full time, small staff environment. Being a big girl, and recognizing my unique personality traits (thank you Birkman), I anticipated some challenges in the transition.

I mean, of course, there was the demand on my time and learning to adjust family life with my new schedule - which as a mom of 5 kids was intensely stressful. But those are the exterior things. I knew internally - in me - I would have to transition as well. 

So? I turned to words. And my friends.

Some folks journal. Some read devotionals. I collect words. And I wondered if my friends did too. So I asked them to send me their favorite words and I penned, cropped & app'd those words into a journal of my own. Now every morning when I arrive to the office, before the phone can ring, before a request can be made, before I turn on the coffee pot, (gasp!) I read my book.

My book has quotes.
It has scripture.
It has a greeting card my honey sent to me in the mail that says he's proud of me and he loves me.

I took all those words, the love and support of my friends, and made my own book.
A book I read every morning. A book authored by those who root for me. 

So if you're one of the ones who contributed to my book, I can't thank you enough for sharing your inspiration and wisdom. It means so much. To anyone who could use an encouragement read on to see a sample of my morning reading material. 

And if you'd like to apply this idea in any way in your own world. Do It! I got the inspiration from Justin Zoradi, a Storyline blogger. (read his post here)

Words are powerful. Try applying them in some way in your life and perhaps your soul, like mine, will feel the soothing balm a well arranged strand of words can bring.

Here's my favorite quotes from my Morning Book:

Do you have a favorite-get-you-through-a-tough-day quote? Please share! I would love to add it to my book!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Teacher's Tricks are NO Treat #ThrowbackThursday

My lil bat boy in 2005
I wrote this piece 3 years ago as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting column in the local paper. Since Halloween is tomorrow.... enjoy!

As I sit this year surrounded by hoards of candy collected during this past Halloween, my heart is grateful. You see, there was a year when the candy bowl was nearly empty before it even got filled. It was one of the scariest Halloweens ever. 

I’ll never forget the time when my son announced that he was done trick or treating despite the fact we had only gone two blocks from home. He looked at me through his superhero mask and said, "I have enough candy. Can we please go home?"

Like all mothers (and lovers of milk chocolate covered caramel) I encouraged him to press on. The weather that year was pleasant and I was sure that he would have a good time once he got into the holiday spirit.

However, as soon as we knocked on one more door he repeatedly insisted that we head home. Distraught we paused on the sidewalk, the revelers passing us by, and I examined him from head to toe. Was he feeling ok? I placed my hand on his forehead. Did his costume pinch or did his feet hurt? No he assured me, he was quite comfortable. I surmised he must by suffering from a combination of fear and shyness and so I made a deal with him; one more block and if he still wanted to turn back we would.

I had faith that once he saw the candy piling up in his treat bag he would become much more interested and he would press on with enthusiasm. Instead after only a few more tricks or treats he was done. He demanded with fervor to be taken home and refused to collect one more piece of candy.

I was quite disappointed. I looked down into his bag and my heart sank. Oh, not for him. I spied only a handful of my favorite treats and knew I would have great difficulty pilfering any of them from his bag unnoticed.

You see, I believe in a parent’s appreciation tax on Halloween. I bought and/or made that costume he is wearing. I applied the makeup. I endured the two hour walk with misbehaving children doped up on sugar in the bitter cold. Certainly there should be some pay off for me. 

Aren't I the one who makes sure Halloween happens? Shouldn't I be the one who gets a payoff? Lucky for my kids I like chocolate. I can be paid off relatively easily.

So, sadly we returned home. As my son dumped out of his treats on the floor and began to sort through them, I turned on the porch light to accept the lucky devils and witches who were still out on the street trick or treating. Turns out that was a brilliant move as I effectively got rid of all the subpar candy we had collected. I mean one can only eat so many Tootsie Rolls and nobody wants those homemade popcorn balls.

While hoping not to get egged for re-gifting Halloween candy, I turned to notice my little guy sorting and organizing his bounty. Impressed with his initiative and pre-math skills I sat down to join him. And that's when I noticed his piece of paper. He wasn't interested in sorting his candy for the fun of it. He had been given a homework assignment to count his loot.

Instantly I realized why my son cut our trick or treating adventure short. He wasn't sick or scared. He knew the less candy he collected the easier his homework assignment would be.

Which either makes him brilliant or a complete slacker.

All I know is when I look back on that year I shudder remembering how I failed to meet my quota for Reese's Peanut Butter cups, Almond Joys and Carmel Apple Suckers. That self designated appreciation tax I look forward to each year was more like a chocolate famine. And it was a sad time.

Now years later my little guy is a big guy. At six foot three he convinced me he should be
See? He's too big to Trick or Treat! 
allowed one more romp around the neighborhood. This very well may have been his last Halloween. Which is sad when I think that my little boy is growing up. It also grieves my heart to think that the days are coming when if I want candy I'll have to go out and buy it myself. The days of pilfering through my kids' bags for the good stuff are numbered. Isn't that the scariest trick of all?

This article originally appears in The Daily Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series. Stephanie is a mother to five children and is a Parent Educator for the Monmouth-Roseville School District. She is available for personal consultation or speaking engagements. She can be reached at

Fess up ..... you eat your kid's candy too! Right? I'm not the only one?
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