Friday, September 30, 2011

Finance Friday

Finance Friday time.
I have a hunch I lost out on an opportunity because of these entries.
I can't prove it ... and I could be wrong ... but I'm still struggling with the emotions that come when you discover you're being judged solely on what you've written.

And that's a writer's ever-ongoing-forever challenge.
Do we write for ourselves or do we write for our audiences?

When I write, I pretend that no one is listening. I write for myself.
That might be hard for you to believe but since there's only 11 of you who regularly follow this blog ... well, I can just close my eyes when I'm at the computer and type away as if there's nobody on the other side of these words. That's how I get my words to come out.

Maybe I'm naive. But that's how I write. That's why I'll get personal. And bossy. And write with more grammatical errors than my 6th grade son.

My hubs has been very graceful when it comes to Finance Friday. Because while I'm telling our story, I'm really only able to tell our story as I see it - from my side of the experience. He might have a different attitude about the checkbook and the bills and the food in the pantry. In fact, I'm sure he does.
But he is a great man because he's allowed me, without any complaint or judgement to write our story as I see it. He's a great man.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lessons from the Field

(This article appears in the 9/27/11 edition of The Review Atlas as a part of my Practical Parenting series) One interesting fact you might want to know about me is that I don’t love watching sports – not even when my own children are playing. (Gasp!) I know! That goes against everything that is good and right about parenting but, nevertheless, it is what it is. It’s like the way I am wired or something. (There goes my nomination for a Mother of the Year award).

I'll be sure to sign my kids up to play sports. I attend their games. I wash their jerseys. I've even been caught wearing the occasional fund raising team-mom t-shirt with my kids number on the back but I sheepishly admit ... I don't love it. At all.

All that to say my oldest son is playing football - for the first time - at the junior high level. The season’s just started and he’s had just a few games. Apparently he's good. Really good. I say apparently because since I don’t like watching sports, particularly football, this is the first time I've ever watched an entire football game from beginning to end. I really have no idea what is going on. I mean I get the basics of it but don't ask me what position he plays or what a blitz is. I've no clue. But even a novice like me can figure out that what he is doing on that field is good. I mean he's always doing the hitting never getting hit. He remains on his feet while the other kids pull turf out of their face masks or if he's on the ground he's the one who comes up with the ball.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Menu Monday

(September 18-24) I love Menu Monday's! Yes! even my own Menu Monday! I love to cook. Even more, I love to cook for people who love to eat my food! And while technically, you, my reader are not eating at my table every night, I feel like I get to share my love for nurturing and feeding others. I hope you enjoy this week's menu and if any of you are trying any of the recipes ... will ya give me a shout? I'd love to hear what you cooked, what your family loved or even hated ... lemme know!

Brunch - cheesy scrambled eggs, potatoes o'brian, crumbled sausage, sauteed apples with oatmeal pancakes
(Thanks to my friend for sharing her bounty of farm fresh eggs with us! We really enjoyed the fresh treat! While this is not a 'quick' meal I don't mind taking the time for it for two reasons ... 1. the left over potatoes make a great base for an egg skillet later in the week for a quick breakfast or lunch and 2. I love big breakfasts! I love eating them so therefore I love cooking them!) 

Potato O'Brian

image from
1/2 c onion (optional)
1/2 c green pepper &/or sweet red pepper (optional)
4 medium red potatoes cubed
3 T cooking oil (I use EVOO)
1/4 c beef broth
1/2 t Worcestershire
1 t salt

Saute onion and peppers & potatoes in oil over med heat for 4 minutes. Combine broth, W sauce & salt and pour over veggies. Cover & cook for 10 min or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook till liquid is absorbed about 3 minutes. Yield 4 servings.

I love this recipe because I don't have to peel the potatoes - a bonus when your kids are hungry! and I've made it with and without the broth but the broth definitely adds a flavor boost!

Also use the leftovers ... you can add them to a soup or do like we do, warm them up and sprinkle with cheese and put on a fried egg for a quick, hearty breakfast one morning!

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Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes

This recipe is from Cook This! Not That! 
Banish the Bisquick! The ubiquitous dry mix is fine in a pinch, but if you could make healthier, more delicious pancakes by spending an extra 2 minutes at the mixing bowl, why wouldn’t you? Oats and wheat flour give these pancakes a fiber and protein boost, helping stabilize your blood sugar levels as your body absorbs the rush of carbs that comes with a stack of flapjacks. Also each one is 260 calories!

You’ll need:
1 ½ cups buttermilk
¾ cup instant rolled oats
¾ cup whole-wheat flour
2 Tbsps milk
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 ½ tsps baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
Pinch of cinnamon, plus 1/8 tsp for the apples
Pinch of nutmeg
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
½ cup apple juice
2 Tbsps brown sugar
Butter or cooking spray
Confectioner’s sugar

How to make it: In a large mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk, oats, flour, milk, butter, baking powder, baking soda, pinch of cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir to gently combine, then set aside to rest for a few minutes.

Combine the apple, apple juice, brown sugar, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook until the apple has softened and the liquid has thickened.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Adding a bit of butter or cooking spray before each round, scoop ¼-cup portions of batter into the skillet and use a spatula to spread into thin, even circles. Cook until small bubbles form in the top of the batter, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Keep pancakes warm in the oven while you finish cooking. Serve topped with the warm apples and a bit of confectioner’s sugar, if you like.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chapter 5, Characters & Character, Exercise 1 - 4

(Characters) need to exhibit enough conflict and contradiction that we can recognize them as belonging to the contradictory human race - Janet Burroway

With a boost to my ego (thanks to my editor, Marty T) I have made the time (but barely) to return to the book that started this whole life shift for me. Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach is why I made a decision to get serious about writing. It's why this blog exists. It's why my fingers have become more at home on a keyboard than attached to my own wrists.

This week I've been working through Chapter 5 on Characters and Character.

The first 4 exercises were very personal .... instructions to write about your mother & father from your memory as a child and from where you are now, an adult. Mr. Roorback gives us permission to never publish those works. The exercise is intended to be personal, Roorbach writes, "...moms and dads are hard to write about, call up our worst guilty, our worst fears of exposure, failure. Again, this is writing just for you."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tim Brown on creativity and play | Video on

The following video from TED is about a half hour long however it's quite interesting to those of us in early education. It's interesting as well if you want to find ways to increase your own levels of creativity. Speaker Tim Brown makes the point that children \-who are inclined to play- are the most and most naturally creative but as we "mature" we eliminate opportunties for play or feel embarassed to play thereby decreasing our levels of creativity.

watch the video on TED here:
Tim Brown on creativity and play Video on

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Finance Friday

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It's another Friday ... Finance Friday on my blog! Thanks to all the readers out there. I've gotten feedback that indicates this Friday topic is really hitting home with some of you. That means a lot because it's a very personal issue (of course, right?)!

Well today is going to be a little more light hearted ... everything doesn't need to be so heavy all the time, eh?

Some coworkers of mine are also going through Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. I mentioned in last week's blog that our family went through that a few years ago. While it was a very challenging time, in hindsight it was completely worth the struggle to learn to live within our means. We've so much more peace of mind these days knowing that we've worked to eliminate the debt that hung over our heads. I always encourage others to consider Financial Peace University if you desire to radically change your budget.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Don't Know How She Does It!

(this article appears in the 9/20 edition of The Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series) ~ I’m expecting a royalty check any day now! As soon as I saw the trailer for Sarah Jessica Parker’s new movie, “I Don’t Know How She Does It” I just knew that it was based on my life. I’m preparing now for the paparazzi who will be knocking down my door any minute now for an exclusive interview.

Ok, truth is that movie isn’t based on me or my life but it should be! Instead it’s Allison Pearson’s book of the same title that is the inspiration behind this mommy-can-do-it-all movie released last weekend.

While the movie takes a comedic approach at exploring the ongoing embattlement in every woman who works outside the home, I think in reality a bigger issue needs to be addressed.

Can mommy do it all? I don’t think so nor do I think that we should have to. Allow me to explain.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Menu Monday

(for the week 9/11-9/17) We are on a budget where every dollar counts. And while I'm not a couponer by any means I shop generic when I can, fresh every chance I get and hardly buy anything that's not on sale.

How do I do it?

<--- Well first my life is organized on this calendar. Every game, every practice, every appointment is penciled in here. I check it to see what nights I have time to cook and what evenings I need a good meal quick! Then I get out my menu notebook and jot down dinner/breakfast and even snack ideas for the week.

My grocery list is created from that menu and what follows is really what we ate this week. Maybe you'll be inspired to try something new. Gather your family around the table and make some time for real food and togetherness! Enjoy this week's Menu Monday....

Waffle Maker Waffles for Brunch
(I make the waffles the kids add their own toppings. This photo is my oldest son's plate. As you can imagine he got in trouble for using so much whipped cream) 
Sandwiches for lunch
Cereal for dinner

Tator tot casserole
(I adore this simple dish and hubby loves it as a leftover)

we tailgated with sandwiches as Ebay had a football game

Spaghetti & Meatballs with Garlic Bread
(don't think for a second that I make meatballs - I don't! But I do look at the ingredient list as some are nothing but fillers. Look for all beef meatballs for your healthiest option!)
Pioneer Woman General Tso's Chicken with Broccoli and Rice
(my family raved!! about this new recipe! and they never rave! While it's not an easy meal to put together it was worth it! We loved it! I doubled the recipe and made 2# of chicken and it was still delicious for lunch as a leftover)

we were invited out - thanks Perry's!

Red Potato Soup with fresh bread
(I didn't love this soup recipe. I won't make it again. I wanted to make Julie's recipe but she didn't get it to me in time. I'll try your version next time McV! Also, I buy the frozen bread dough that raises practically on it's own ... all you have to do is bake it and the house smells heavenly!)

p.s. I've recently learned that this idea is not a unique one!

1. Kate Gosselin announced on Twitter that she would be posting her own Menu Monday and

2. I found Menu Plan Monday on this cool website where a whole bunch of menu planners post their stuff each week!

Good news should travel .... if you enjoyed my blog won't you consider forwarding it on? OR sign up and I'll send my blogs directly into your email box. Thanks for reading!

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Tator Tot Casserole

Tator Tot Casserole

1 pound ground beef fried (w onions if you love em like me!)
1 can Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup
1 - 2 Cups of your favorite shredded cheese
1 bag of frozen tator tots cooked crispy
1/2 can milk

Cook tots according to directions or until crispy.
Fry beef and drain well.
Put beef back in pan and mix with soup and half can of milk.
Stir till delicious looking!
Place almost all of the tots in a greased casserole dish (double the recipe for a 9x13 pan)
Pour cheesy hamburger mixture over tots
Sprinkle remaining tots on tops of casserole
and smother in cheese.
Place in 350 oven till done! ummm ... like 15 minutes or so.
You'll know when it's done, the cheese will melt like heaven!

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Feelin the Love

I believe it's never too late for 2 things in life:

Today I give my heartfelt thanks.
I am blessed beyond English words could ever express.
I've been overwhelmed in the most amazing ways in the last 2 weeks and my heart is heavy with gratitude. That is what I write about today. I've spent some time reflecting this afternoon about all the good things that have come my way and I am brought to tears at the kindness that exists in this world.

One of the toughest things I have ever done was starting this blog and then choosing to be honest on it. Because of that many of you have had a front seat for both the glorious and tumultuous sides of life in my Tribe.

And I discovered you loved me anyway.

The following thank you is not intended to be vague or to cause you to wonder, I'm withholding names because I treasure what you've done so much that just mentioning it in 'public' seems to lesson it's value. And yet my heart overflows - how could I not show the world that
the little things do count.
When I add up all the little gestures of kindness I've received these last few weeks I am overwhelmed for in that revelation I find I am a very rich woman.

This is my offering...

Thank You, KC for your timeliness it meant the world to our hearts.
Thank you TB for the trims.
Thank You AW because you asked we $aved. My kids hugged me because of that night.
Thank You KC because you are always so generous.
Thank You JR because we've eaten off your bounty.
Thank You MH because I love hand-me-downs.
Thank You GY, JB, DS & JH for your generosity. It will change H's life.
Thank You LJ I know you love my family and that makes me love you.
Thank You SM & KN your kind words give me bravery.
Thank You KP for sharing out of your vanity.
Thank You MT for believing I write 'good enough'.
Thank You KG not because you have to because you want to.
Thank you JR you're the most faithful of them all.
Thank you LH for making it possible.
Thank you DD & KC for your kind words.
Thank you LR for that hug today ... man, it felt like love.
Thank you BC for thinking of me.

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pigskin Proverb

One thing you should know about me ... I don't love watching sports - not even when my own kids are playing. While I'm fully aware that's completely sacrilegious according to the parenting bible it is how I feel. That's right ... I'm no mother of the year.

I sign my kids up to play sports, I attend their games, I wash their jerseys ... I've even been caught wearing the occasional fundraising team mom t-shirt with my kids number on the back but I sheepishly admit ... I don't love it. At all.

All that to say my oldest son is playing football - for the first time - at the junior high. He's had two games. And apparently he's good. Really good. I say apparently because this is the first time I've ever watched an entire football game from beginning to end. I really have no idea what is going on. I mean I get the basics of it but don't ask me what position he plays or what a blitz is. I've no clue. But even an imbecile novice like me can figure out that what he is doing on that field is good. I mean he's always doing the hitting not getting hit. He remains on his feet while the other children kids pull turf out of their face masks or if he's on the ground he's the one who comes up with the ball.

Pretty good for a 5'11" 12 year old.
Really good for a hearing impaired kid who plays without his glasses.

After his last game, a tough loss, I anticipated his low morale on the car ride home. When I started with the obligatory run-of-the-mill-generic encouragement Ebay cut me off.
"Oh I'm OK Mom! I played really good!"
"Yes baby you did!"
"And plus I don't mind loosing."
"You don't mind loosing?"
"No, not at all! I'd rather play a hard team and loose than kill an easy team!"

I'm not kidding you. These were the words that came out of my son's mouth.
And since he can't even remember to brush his teeth everyday
I was stunned.

He continued, interrupting my shock.

"I mean, when you play against a hard opponent you really have to work hard. And that's the only way to get better, Mom. Is by working hard."

He is right, of course. So painfully correct.
How many of us avoid hard work?
How many of us complain when we hafta go above and beyond in our workplaces?
in our life?
in relationships?
Most of us do only as little as possible.
As very little as possible.

You'll never like hard work. But it's necessary to get better
to improve
to succeed.

So the next football game you see me, I may not be wearing school colors or cheering the loudest but know that my heart is bursting. For that rough and tumble, testosterone induced game of pigskin has taught my son one of life's greatest lessons. And it has reminded me to put a quash on my own complaining and roll up my sleeves the next time I find myself in a challenging situation. I may not be 'winning' but I'm getting better!

What if we all did the same?

NIV Proverbs 14:23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

How'd We Get Here...

On the news this week a new announcement: Poverty in American is at an all time high.

So ...  we're not the only family feeling the strain of unfunded needs as this video from NBC news indicates. However, with my overly blatant (and borderline inappropriate) confessions on my Finance Friday entries I thought you might appreciate knowing our story and how we got here:

5 years ago my husband had a full time job (calling??) as a pastor. It was a lovely congregation, second family really ... We had five kids and I had a perfect, part time job at the kids' school.
And while our income was humble we were making it. That's because seven years ago we made a commitment to live a financially peaceful life (thanks Dave Ramsey). We lived with a small savings account, a trimmed up monthly budget and had just what we needed. If we found something we wanted, we saved for it. It was working out nicely.

Two years ago, with tears in our eyes and a tug on our heart we said goodbye to our faithful congregation to work with an organization working with church planters in central Europe. While it would require extensive travel on Aaron's behalf and a tremendous leap of faith, we moved forward excited about the possibilities.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

As I was leaving the house this morning my husband kissed me on the cheek and asked, "Are you ready?". I knew he meant are you:
prepared to take the children to school?
do they have their backpacks?
did you pack your lunch?
do you have everything you need?
don't forget to pick up Halee..... but that's not what I heard. When he asked me "Are you ready?" it meant something much different to me -I can't explain how or why but it just did.

I responded with, "I AM ready. I don't know what is coming my way today but whatever it is, I am, in fact, ready!"

Little did I know I was preparing for some of the best news of my writing career to date!

Look at the email I got today:

My local editor, who I have been faithfully writing for for years without any kickback, has asked if he can promote me!

My heart beat out of my chest. My fingers flew across the keyboard with excitement! My mind began racing immediately. My energy for writing has been renewed!

It's amazing how a smidge of encouragement can really put the wind back in your sails. It reminds me how much power a pat on the back has!

So while I'll keep writing and putting my best stuff out there, I'll keep my fingers crossed that somebody will find me, like me, pick me up and pay me for my articles!

I told you I was ready!

p.s. an encouraging word - a sincere, encouraging word goes a long way! Won't you find someone today to pat on the back? It might make all the difference in the world to them! 

p.s.s. Marty, if or when I get that book published ... you'll certainly find your name in the Acknowledgements ! Thanks a lot!

Because good news should travel fast ....I'd appreciate it if you like my blog to forward it on to a friend!

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

If Momma Ain't Happy link

Practical parenting, how to get through Monday's
this is the link to my Tuesday Practical parenting article in the Review Atlas!

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If Momma Ain't Happy ...

(from my Practical Parenting series in the Tuesday edition of The Daily Review Atlas)

You know that old saying, "If Momma ain't happy, ain't no one happy?". It's true. Ask my children. They know full well when and if I'm in a bad mood. And they know to scatter on said days. All children do really, but I got news for myself and all the mommas out there. Watch yourself.

Child development experts agree that children draw their cues for appropriate behavior and reactions directly from their parents. Meaning the more upset and frustrated the parent is, the more upset and frustrated a child will be. So, it turns out, what we used to think of as nothing more than a lighthearted wives tale is a very powerful truth. A parent's mood directly influences their child's. For both the good and the bad.

If you don't believe me stand around some school morning and observe the students getting dropped off. The children who had a relaxed, well prepared morning get sent off with a kiss on the cheek and smile on their face. The children who's morning was chaotic are forced to face their school day frustrated, tearful and crabby. Which child do you think is more prepared for success that day?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Menu Monday

Last week was Labor Day. It was also fair week. And Ebay's first football game. And Aaron had 2 home soccer games. He volunteered me to run the concession stand. We had words about that. Friday we finally took the kids out to the carnival. I literally did not cook for four nights in a row. That has never, ever, in the history of my parenting happened!

Good thing I have a menu for you this week. It's actually from August 8th. Trust me, I would have much rather eaten this. Instead we were heavy on the grilled cheese, PB&Js and bowls of cereal for dinner. That's ok, this week I got some great new recipes up my sleeve and I am looking forward to cooking! Enjoy Menu Monday ....

Grilled Hamburgers & Sweet Corn
(We always grill more burgers than we need. They make great leftovers for lunch and they freeze well)

Cornbread Sausage Pizza
(I got this out of a Family Fun magazine and it's a keeper!)

Crock Pot Roast, Boiled Potatoes & Carrots, Blueberry Cornbread Muffins, Ramen Salad
(save leftover roast for a future Beef Stroganoff)

Lasagna & Garlic Bread
(I literally buy a box of lasagna noodles & cook the recipe on back)

Macaroni & Cheese
(from the blue box! I don't love it but my kids do and I don't mind the leftover lasagna)

leftover Lasagna

Sunday Brunch
Buttermilk Pancakes & Sausage links
(I buy Armour brand links they are precooked (just eat n eat!) and very inexpensive comparably)

I only cook breakfast on Sundays. A big hearty breakfast can take me almost all day but the kids need more, of course! Sandwiches or leftovers for lunch and in the evening they always have I have a giant bowl of popcorn! Yum!)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Buttermilk Pancakes

image from
This is my mother-in-law's famous pancake recipe! I was a Bisquick girl myself until I married Aaron. It doesn't take long before you will prefer these pancakes over any other! On the mornings when we have pancakes for breakfast I will set out the electric griddle the night before and put all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Then in the morning all I have to do is put in the eggs and buttermilk. Viola! Hot breakfast easy peasy!

2 C flour
2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients. Add eggs and buttermilk. Mix very well. Let sit for a minute or two and pour big or tiny puddles onto a hot, non stick pan. Flip when the entire pancake is full of bubbles. Cook for another minute or two. Slap on some butter and syrup .... mmmm!

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Finance Friday - a Hole

image from
We're in the hole.


The kind of hole where
you pour the juice your kids haven't drank back into it's container rather than dump it down the drain.
The kind of hole where
the leftover milk from cereal gets reused.

The kind of hole where
I put water in the gallon of milk when no one's looking.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Mom is AWEsome!

I have a new job description at school this year. I like it ... so far. I have all new "neighbors" too. I share a room with 2 early childhood teachers. It's a combination of a work space and place to pull out PreK kids for one-on-one services.

It's been such a busy start to the year we haven't really taken the time to visit or get to know each other until today.

This morning I visited with Miss M.
She's nice. And young. 26. She is getting married this November. She's as green as can be but she's kind. We visited a bit. I asked about her and her life, she in turn asked about mine.
I told her I have 5 kids.
She said, "My mom had 5 kids"
I told her I had twins.
She said "I'm a twin!"
I said my twins are fraternal girls.
She said "My twin is fraternal!"
I said my twins were number 4 and 5.
She said "Me too!"
I said I had four kids in five years.
She said, "My mom had 5 kids in 2 1/2 years!"
I said, "You're mom wins!"
She laughed.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

You can entertain your kids for Cheap!

(this article is a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series for The Daily Review Atlas)

I am so thankful for the little things in life. The little things from my little people. My children to be exact. This past Labor Day weekend brought with it a lot of down time and my family found itself looking for things to do to pass the time. 

Personally, I thought napping was a great idea but my kids could only be held off under the covers of their beds for a mere hour.

So there we were. Staring at each other wondering what on earth we could do outside of mindless television viewing.

And that's when we discovered the joy of the little things. We didn't spend a dime. We didn't even leave the house. Yet, we were able to entertain ourselves with our own creations and imaginations.

The number one way to conjure up some fun with your young child? Find that which was lost.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Menu Monday

for the week of August 29  Our life is super busy right now. There is always a certain level of chaos activity when you throw, er ... knit, 7 lives together but as it is every fall we are coming.... and going... and we meet ourself coming and going again.

Aaron coaches M-R varisty soccer ... they practice or have a game every night
Halee babysits, has drama practice and college prep level homework
Ethan has football practice every night and homework ... it's all we can do to keep him Math-motivated
Eric has soccer 2 nights a week
and the Twins? well, they pretty much get dragged around everywhere.

Bless their hearts.

So all that to say is this week's menu is heavy in the front and light in the back - that means the first 3 recipes each leave my family with significant leftovers that we can munch on later in the week!

Freezer Enchiladas (love this recipe because I make one and freeze one for another day)
Cheesy Mexican Rice
Chips n Salsa
Fried Cinnamon Strips (since I had the time)

Pasta with White Sauce
Garlic Bread
Steamed Broccoli
Parmesan Crusted Tomatoes (because my friend with a garden was very generous with her red Romas. But let's be honest, the tomatoes are for me and the hubby, the kids don't touch em & I don't make em) p.s. this photo was taken on Halee's 1998 homemade Cinderella plate...cuz I'm sophisticated like that!

Tuesday, after cleaning up dinner, I took out a bag of frozen, boneless chicken breast and defrosted it in fridge. Wednesday morning I opened it, dumped in half a bottle of generic (cuz I'm cheap like that) Italian dressing. Put it back in the fridge and let it marinate. (make sure you put the bag in a large bowl or something as it tends to drip -- ew!)

Parmesan Chicken
Rice Mix - whatever's in the pantry we happened to have chicken n mushroom
Green Beans (love summertime & friends with gardens)

our first home soccer game! I'm working concession stand so the Sikorski Tribe is eating PB&Js or hot dogs out of the stand.

Hubby will be away at soccer tournament, I have to work till 5 and pick up the kids and head out of town! No new dinner tonight ... insert leftovers! Yum!

Everyday after school this week we had apples, grapes, bananas and Popsicles on hand. Also I made this Bugle's just handy to have stuff the kids can munch on at various "Mooooooom! I'mmmmm starrrrrrrrving!!" moments :)

Special: for lunch I used leftover chicken and put it in a box of Cesar Suddenly Salad (mix 1/4 c mayo w 1/4 c milk & seasoning packet. add chicken tomato and cucumber)

Dinner: Buffalo Chicken (I don't know how Bdubs makes their wings but my Buffalo chicken is nothing more than fried chicken dunked in buffalo sauce. I stock up on this fantastic sauce when Sav-A-Lot has it in stock. I oven fry chicken breasts or wings or tenders (whatever is on hand) and smother it! It is soo good)
Onion Rings
Twice Baked Potatoes

my Fav! burger seasoning

Scrambled eggs & sausage links
Monkey Bread
Strawberry Yogurt Smoothies

Hamburgers on the grill Potato Salad
chips n dip n salsa from the garden

Also because I was in the mood I made a soccer cake! Did you know that a Pyrex bowl can be used as a cake pan? This is a generic cake mix. Generic icing. Some M&Ms I found in the pantry! The kids raved!

Cinnamon Strips

8 Flour tortillas cut into 1 inch strips
pan for frying
enough veg oil to cover bottom of pan and be about an inch deep
3/4 cup sugar
2 T cinnamon

Mix sugar and cinnamon together.
Heat oil in pan.
These cook quick so I always save them for the last, after all my other meal is prepared. It literally takes 5 minutes as your oil only gets hotter and hotter which means they fry up quick!

Using tongues place a few strips of tortilla in hot oil.
As soon as they are light brown flip over
and fry just seconds on other side.

Transfer to paper towel to get off excess oil.
Place a few more strips in pan.
Transfer drained, fried tortilla strips into sugar and cinnamon and toss around.
Flip tortilla strips in pan.
Transfer coated tortilla strips to serving platter, sneak a sample ...
Move fried strips to paper towel ... repeat ....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I'm taking the lunch box challenge!

I stumbled across a blog by Simple Mom who's tag line is "Life Hacks for Home managers" ! Ha!

I loved it instantly. She posted some great links and that's how I came across the blog The Happiest Mom (great tag line too btw: Happy. Mother. You really can use both words in the same sentence. Brilliant!!)

Anyway, I loved this challenge and I'm doing it! Click the link and check it out! Our kids would be better off for it!

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Freezer Enchiladas

1 pound prepared taco beef
(I almost always make too much taco meat whenever I can, love having it on hand to knock out an extra 20 minutes)
8 flour tortillas
1 small jar green chilies
1/3 cup water
20 ounces (or so) of Enchilada sauce
your favorite Mexican Blend cheese
(we love Supremo Quesadilla cheese when we can find it!)

Mix beef, chilies and water.
Pour a smidge enchilada sauce in the bottom of greased 9x13 pan - just enough to cover it
Spread beef mixture down center of each 8" flour tortilla
Sprinkle in cheese (as much or as little as you want - or skip altogether for a more authentic enchilada)
Tightly roll up tortillas and place side by side in pan
Cover with enchilada sauce (as much or as little ... you decide)
Smother in cheese (the best part)
Cover in foil
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
or ....
double the recipe make two, bake one and freeze one for later
(but be kind to yourself and use a foil pan. I hate scrubbing Pyrex.)
When ready to use bake in oven for about an hour OR take out of freezer that morning, thaw in fridge and bake normal)

Snack Mix

Best No-Bake Snack mix ever .... almost!
3 bags Bugels
1 box Cheese Nips or 3 bags Goldfish or your favorite cheese cracker/snack
1 can your favorite nuts (we use cashews only)
1/2 bag of pretzels (sticks, twists ... whatever)
1/2 c veg oil
1 envelope dry Ranch dressing

Mix the snacks together in a huge bowl. Mix ranch & oil well! Pour over all the salty goodness. Stir gently but well. Dig in or let it sit to let flavors combine. Snack!

D@mn ToothFairy!

The Rock is The Tooth Fairy
I really screwed it up this time.

I was laying in bed, sound asleep as any mother should be at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, when I heard the twins in the hallway, giggling and trying to whisper. No sooner had my mind registered what my ears were hearing than my mouth engaged.


The first words out of my mouth this morning were swear words.
1. I'm not prone to swear .... really, ask my friends! (Ok, maybe not my closest friends but people who generally know me know I don't usually, hardly ever swear) and

2. no matter who you are, that is NOT how you want to start any day and

3. I had a really, really, really good reason to be upset: the Tooth Fairy forgot to come.


This is totally not her first offense. Oh no, she regularly forgets to come to our house.
And by regularly I mean never. And it's not because we don't believe in her. We do. In fact, we believe in all forms of make believe. We happen to tell tall tales all the time ... we tell stories about how the Tooth Fairy's schedule gets backed up.

And the fact that she's getting, you know (clears throat), up there and she often forgets important things because of her age.

And sometimes we muse that she is getting picky, telling our children that maybe their teeth aren't up to par.

Or maybe she needs a note to remind her.

You see, we tell all sorts of tales to our children about the many reasons why Tooth Fairy has forgotten them.

Shameless, I know.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Finances - Going Back to Go Forward

Billy Madison
image from

Aaron had finally made a decision to go back to school.
After a year of supplementing his income with substitute teaching he found he really, really enjoyed spending time in the classroom.

In fact, back in the day, before attending Bible College he had thought about becoming a teacher.
After months of investigating,
and transcript requesting,
and immunization updating,
at almost 40 years of age he decided to take what he could from his first B.A. and put it toward an Illinois Certified Teaching Degree.

Turns out it was much more difficult than we originally thought.

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