Monday, May 31, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - May 31

Last week turned out a bit different than I planned...I think that happens a lot around here! It was mostly changed by family being in town and then a short visit "out of town" to visit family, with a bunch of salad in between using lettuce from our garden.

This is lettuce and herbs!

And our garden is ready to pick about this much again! Good thing we like salad! 

Yogurt and Almond Ginger Granola
Butterscotch oatmeal
Baked Oatmeal

Salad! with a variety of toppings and dressings depending on mood and availability

Snobby Joes (never got to last week)
Poppy Seed Chicken (also never got to)

Homemade granola bars

For more great meal ideas, head over to Orgjunkie!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Homemade Snacks

In my quest for saving money I have realized that snacks are greatly enjoyed in our house, but can also be the culprit of more money spent than should be reasonable for the benefit of them...
I have always loved making my own applesauce, and have recently enjoyed finding the best granola recipe. I have also been working on the perfect granola bar (another day, another post) but have also tried to make some other snacks recently.
My first was roasting chick peas. It sounded fun and interesting, I like crunchy, I figured it should be healthy, and a good change from nuts...I read many different ways to add spice and flavor (I chose sweet) and different ways of roasting, like adding flavor before vs. after roasting (I chose before). I would like to try again, adding the flavor after the roasting and see what this does. They took a lot longer than what I read, but were definitely best fresh. I made too many to eat them all fresh. Hubs was not that excited. Luckily my toddler was!
I also had my first attempt ever at making bread (besides making quick breads like this amazing apple bread that I love!). I don't have a fancy mixer or a bread machine or the time/patience for lots of kneading and rising, so I think I qualified for this recipe I found.
 (letting it rise while I found other things to do...)
I made it 100% whole wheat and was very excited for the result, especially when it was right out of the oven (and with a thin layer of nutella). I think I did it on a cooler day recently and had a hard time with the rising, but it eventually got there and it was good. And easy. And I am going to make it again. Soon.
Making snacks from scratch works for me! Got any homemade snacks you love and want to share?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - May 24

I found myself very inspired last week to make lots of recipes, including some to put away in the freezer for a rainy day. I tried new ones, altered old ones, and found some favorites. I was most excited, though, about finding acceptable ways to get more vegetables in my toddler's diet. I added beets to pancakes after seeing this recipe and then I was inspired and added some pureed spinach to my old faithful baked oatmeal. My son loved both, and he's getting extra veggies!

I also got some cheap apples and zucchini last week and went on a small baking fest:
Zucchini Fries (these were fun!)
Chocolate Cupcakes (I made some alterations based on what I had on hand and not sure if this messed me up or what, but I had a hard time getting them cooked all the way through...but they had good flavor)
Apple Breakfast Bars (need to scroll down; I actually froze them all, so not sure how they turned out)
Chai Apple Bread

This coming week is looking like a week full of vegetables for us. We have a LOT of lettuce from our garden and I am excited to try out some new dressing recipes. And the weather is getting warmer and lighter, more vegetable-filled meals just sound better!

Baked Oatmeal
Breakfast Cookies 

Spinach Salad (have made this before and love it)
Snobby Joes (I've decided recently I want to try my hand at lentils...we'll see...)
Carrot Salad

Chicken Salad
Dinner on the Grill
Corn on the cob

I usually plan more than we need, so we'll see how that goes this week. What's on your menu plan? Head on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for more great idea!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

5 Ways to Find Simple Motivation

I've realized that I am not the most self-motivated person ever. But I've also realized that there are things I can do to work with the little bits of motivation that I do have once in a while.
Here are some simple ways find some motivation (I'm referring mostly to house work/projects, but could be for anything):
1. Set a Deadline. Maybe it's today, or tomorrow, or next week, but it's a deadline and it will help to know when it has to be finished.
2. Set Goals. Make them SMART Goals, but make them none the less. This will help to make sure it really can happen.
3. Use high energy times. I have been finding that if I make myself get up earlier than everyone else, I can use this time to get a lot done. It's quiet and I have energy and excitement for the new day, so it's a great time for me to get things done.
4. Have people over. Whether it's for a meal or a night, this helps me to be more motivated to keep the house cleaned and finish projects we are working on around the house (like the kitchen right now).
5. Make a plan. Just like making a meal plan helps me to stay motivated to make healthy meals for my family, so does making any other plan. It helps to know what I want to do and how I want to do it (could be a to do list or a chore chart, for example).
Bonus. Don't get discouraged. This only leads to feeling less motivated to keep going, even (and especially) when you feel as though you haven't been doing well. There are always rough days, or days when it feels like nothing gets done, but there is always usually tomorrow (if you start the day right!).
This might be more of a reminder for me today than for you, but either way, I am going to go follow some of my own advice...
This is what Works For Me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - May 17

 Last week was pretty much filled with leftovers and food from my freezer stockpile. It was great for saving time and renewing my desire for cooking and trying new foods (and a great thanks to Super Healthy Kids for some fun, new ideas!).

Yogurt with granola (so far, this is my favorite granola! I do make some alterations, but it's a great recipe to start with!)
Power Puff Pancakes
Gnarly Muffins

Chicken BBQ with cole slaw
Salad with Fruit

Black Bean Burritos
Catalina Cranberry Chicken
Dinner on the grill with a side of veggies

Home made bread with nutella
Banana rollups
Granola Bars

This post is connected to Menu Plan Monday with I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Kitchen Makeover

We are not done, but I wanted to post some progress pictures of our kitchen that we (mostly my husband) are working on. This process doesn't really give me an excuse for the state of my kitchen tonight...
That's just from pure laziness...and I'm sure none of you have ever let the dishes pile up like that...but I have. I'm no stranger to unloading my dishwasher only to immediately fill it completely with what's in the sink! I need to get this under control. Now.

This remodeling process started on a whim with my husband ripping out 3, yes 3!, layers of linoleum to uncover the hardwood floors. We are in the process of redoing the floors, counters, cabinets and walls. I'm so excited with it so far! 
The before of the floors.
Part of the process...
The walls in progress.
Getting closer...
Now I should go do those dishes...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Finding Simplicity and Balance

I have been on a quest lately. Mostly in my mind, and probably a bit more passively than actively, but none the less on a quest. I have been thinking about it a lot lately, and have had a few conversations with my husband as well, but reading a couple of blogs this morning only reiterates my need and desire to become more active than just thinking. This blog article is pretty long, but I find much of what he is saying in "The Difference: Living Well vs. Doing Well" reflects a lot of how I feel with wanting to simplify. And then another one talks about "Balance and Well-being" and my life is not to the extreme of hers and my blog not taking up as much time, but the principles in general that she shares really reflect how I am feeling.
There are things in my life I feel take up too much time and attention and I have worked to make these areas simpler. For example, picking out meals for the week/month can be time-consuming, but I find that using Evernote helps me to have all recipes in one spot, lets me tag them and find what I want quickly and easily, lets me quickly paste pages and recipes I find on the internet, and lets me continually update with my changes and alterations. This has cut the time I spend on this task greatly. But then there are other areas of my life that I haven't found the best solution for. Like finding time for keeping my house clean, grocery shopping, doing laundry, doing home improvement, spending quality time with my kids, working part time, coaching volleyball, blogging about life and other issues, all the while trying to be a wife and mom and friend...
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed at what seems impossible, and sometimes I feel highly motivated and can find the time and desire to get an immense amount of stuff done in a day. And I do love checking things off of a to-do list, but I do not want my life to become one big to-do list! I want to enjoy the process of living, to enjoy all that God has created for me to enjoy!
Some small steps I am taking to work on balance and simplicity:
I am planning a yard sale and I am excited for how much I hope to sell, for how much I hope to get out of our house and feel like we don't have so much stuff around that we don't need.
I am working to create structure in my day, but with flexibility so that, again, I am not bound by a life of to-do's.
I am trying to make sure I make it a priority to work out on a daily basis because I know how good this makes me feel, physically and emotionally.
I am trying to find times and places for my toddler to interact with others his age so he can grow socially and so that I can try to meet other moms possibly in similar life stages.
I am also trying to be more inviting about having others over for a meal, or making it a point to get out of the house and interact with other people and families. It's good for all of us! Relationships can be hard but they are so good!
I am trying to use small amounts of time to clean/cook/do housework instead of getting overwhelmed at all that needs to be done and the time that needs to be involved and not doing anything as a result.
I am trying to make sure I take a little time for myself each day, even if it is just a little extra time in the shower, I know I need it and I know I feel better after it.
How do you simplify? How do you find balance? I'd love to hear about it. And I'd love to keep you involved in my process as well, as I hopefully begin to see how my small changes make big impacts.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Boogie Wipes work for me!

I have a toddler who pretty much didn't get sick for the first 14 months of his life. For some reason, though, the last couple of months have been a different story. And boogie wipes have been our friend. 
I don't think I would have ever bought them on my own. I am the 'I'm sure it's nothing special' type of person, especially when the cost is a bit higher. But a pack was given to us and I (and I'm sure my son even more so) have greatly appreciated them! And I think they are soft and moist enough that my son does not try to run away from us (most of the time)! And I don't have to look at a crusty and/or runny nose all day!
This is what works for me (though hopefully this season will quickly pass us by!). Visit We Are THAT Family for more great tips today.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - May 10

I made more granola and granola bars this past week when we returned to town and a little bit to normalcy. I made "the best granola i've ever had" with some variations of course, and also these "superpower granola bars" (you have to scroll down the page a bit) with minor changes. Both were good. The bars were sweeter than any I have made thus far, and the granola was a crunchier one, which I like!

My husband made this orzo chicken and it was great! It said it served 4, but the first time we ate it there were 4 adults, and we had more left in the pot than what we ate! Guess our servings weren't as big, maybe since we had a salad with garden-fresh lettuce on the side! mmmm.

This week may be a lot of leftovers with the chicken dish and also making some meals with leftover beef tenderloin that my husband grilled for mother's day! It was fabulous, and I am thrilled we get to have more. If you have a great recipe that includes leftover meat I'd love to hear about it. I am thinking maybe a stir fry and maybe on top of another salad from the garden, but I am open to other ideas too.
We will hopefully enjoy a couple of salads, more strawberries and avocados, and corn on the cob that is coming into season now too, as well as simple grilling meals.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

To Yard Sale or Not To Yard Sale?

Is it worth it?
What makes it worth it?
What makes it NOT worth it?
Is a yard sale a valuable way to declutter and downsize?
What do you do with your little kids during the sale, if you have them?
What is your best tip from your experience of doing (or not doing) yard sales?

I haven't ever personally held a yard sale, but I want to this week (unless I get scared off after I get your answers) and obviously need to really get the best tips you have for me.

Thanks! This might be my favorite 'works for me wednesday' because I get to show how not perfect I am and how I need help (with what may be very simple for someone else). To post your question, or help answer someone else's, head on over to We Are THAT Family.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - May 3

 Last week was a little off, and we ended up not even eating as much as planned. My favorite was probably just a salad that we made with lettuce from our "garden," avocados that have been on sale, strawberries that have been on sale, mozzarella cheese left from another recipe, and some raspberry vinaigrette. It was so simple and so amazing!
This week is going to be a bit off again...Hubs and I went out of town with the youngest to coach a volleyball tournament and then hang out an extra night for anniversary/birthday celebration, so Sunday and Monday meals will be out of town. Tuesday lunch is provided at our staff meeting, Wednesday dinner is a Cinco de Mayo party at a friends, Thursdays are rushed as I leave early to coach volleyball, Friday we are having a friend over for dinner...whew.
So, hoping for more salads for lunches, and will probably make guacamole for the party.
Also, Chicken with orzo, mushrooms and peppers for company, chicken bbq for lunches, oatmeal for breakfasts, and leftovers for other meals. It's going to be a simple week and hopefully a cheap week (besides the eating out parts)!
For more great menu ideas, head over to Orgjunkie.