Monday, January 31, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: January 31 - February 6

Wow! The end of January already?!? Where did the month go? We weren't really that busy with extra things, but the time sure seemed to fly by. Looking forward to February, I'm excited about our Life Groups starting up at church and the huge scrapbooking day I plan to attend with my mom, mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

I'm trying three new recipes this week. I've linked to those on the menu. You may notice that chicken sausages are on the menu twice this week. My husband actually requested both of these meals. I asked him if he was sure he wanted to have the sausages twice in the same week. His response was "Yes, because they're just that good." LOL

Here's what's cookin' at our house this week:

Monday: Spinach & Asiago Chicken Sausages on Wheat French Loaf, Dijon-Roasted New Potatoes, Green Beans

Tuesday: Shrimp Macaroni & Cheese, Steamed Broccoli

Wednesday: Beef Enchiladas in Whole Wheat Tortillas, Mexican Style Brown Rice Casserole

Thursday: Whole Wheat Spaghetti, Chicken Sausage Meat Sauce, Salad

Friday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Cheeseburgers & Popchips

Sunday: leftovers

Apparently all of our meals last week were huge hits. I can tell because there are no leftovers in the refrigerator! Hopefully this week will be just as successful.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Better Late Than Never

I was going to do this post as a Wordless Wednesday, but I thought it needed a bit of explanation.

My aunt gave me a Christmas lily bulb when she was visiting for Thanksgiving. She gave me very brief care instructions and told me that it would bloom by Christmas.

I took it home, carefully followed her instructions and waited. A few days later, the stem started to emerge from the bulb. I waited some more.

And waited.

And waited.

Christmas came and went without so much as a bud on the end of the stem. I was just sure that I'd done something wrong and that it would die rather than bloom.

Wednesday, January 26, it looked like this:

Yesterday, January 27, it finally emerged. Absolutely beautiful.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: 1/24 - 1/30

Another Monday means another menu plan! This week I'm trying to make do with what we have in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer. I had a fairly large grocery bill last week because I stocked up on meat from the Manager's Special bin and put it in the freezer. The only things I need to buy for this week's menu are a loaf of Italian bread (which costs 99 cents) for Tuesday's sausage sandwiches and a jar of pickles for our cheeseburgers.

Monday: Chicken & Ham "Pot Pie", mixed green salad

Tuesday: Italian Turkey Sausage, Pepper & Onion Sandwiches, french fries

Wednesday: Chicken Taco Soup from the freezer stash

Thursday: Breakfast for Dinner! (pancakes, turkey sausage patties, fruit cup)

Friday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Cheeseburgers, Potato Skins, salad

Sunday: leftovers

Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: 1/17 - 1/23

Hmmm. Not much exciting happened in our house this past week, hence the back-to-back Menu Plan Monday posts. It's not that we haven't been doing much

Both of my new recipes from last week were huge successes! The beef & tortellini soup and italian turkey spirals will both be added to our repetoire. The homemade sauce I made to go with the turkey spirals was so delicious that my husband has suggested we stop buying jarred sauce and use that for all our pasta dishes instead. Comments like that make me really, really proud. Knowing that I'm serving my family healthy, homemade meals and saving money by cooking in always makes me proud. Getting kudos is just the icing on the cake and makes me even more proud to be a home cook.

Here's what's slated for this week:

Monday: Chicken Baseballs, roasted brussel sprouts

Tuesday: Jamie Oliver's Crunchy Garlic Chicken, baked sweet potatoes, cole slaw

Wednesday: BBQ Beef Cups, mixed veggies

Thursday: Crock Pot Pork & Mushroom Gravy, brown rice, peas

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: Chicken Taco Soup, Grown-Up Grilled Cheese

Sunday: Homemade Pizza

Monday, January 10, 2011

Meal Plan Monday - 1/10-1/16

Looks like my menu planning will be getting a lot easier again in just a few weeks. My church friends and I have decided to start up round 2 of our meal swap group at the beginning of February! While I love cooking for my family every night, it's also fun to sample what others enjoy cooking for their families, too.

Monday: nacho bar (carried over from last week)

Tuesday: Italian Turkey Spirals w/ Fresh Tomato & Basil Sauce, whole wheat spaghetti

Wednesday: Spicy Turkey Meatloaf, baked potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts

Thursday: Beef & Tortellini Soup (Thanks for the recipe, Holli!), gourmet grilled cheese

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: cheeseburgers and steak fries (husband is cooking!)

Sunday: breakfast for dinner

Friday, January 7, 2011

Easy Pumpkin Muffins

And when I say easy I mean really, really easy. :D
You only need two ingredients:

-a box of cake mix, any variety
-15oz. can of pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

Preheat your oven according to the cake package directions for cupcakes.

Line your muffin tin(s) with cupcake liners. (This recipe can make 12-24 muffins depending on the size you want. That's up to you. I like doing 18.)

Dump cake mix and pumpkin both into a large mixing bowl.

Stir the ingredients until well combined. The mixture is dense so use some elbow grease! The result will look like this:

Divide the mixture evenly amonst your muffin tins.

Bake according to the cake package directions. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the muffins cool completely, then wrap individually in clear plastic wrap for a quick grab-and-go treat. They're not the prettiest things to look at, but they are sooo delicious! You can also top them with a little cream cheese frosting if you're so inclined.

I'm linking this post up to FUNtastic Friday over at Inside BruCrew Life.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Intention Words: 2011

My very first post here at Pearls & Blue Jeans was about my intention words for 2009. The intention word idea was important enough to me that I created an entire blog just to share them. (Nevermind that I didn't post again for over a year.) I didn't post mine for 2010 because, well, I was frankly too exhausted. My daughter was 3 months old at the turn of the new year. I didn't even know which end was up at that point, let alone think about my hopes and dreams for the coming year.

This year I have a little more time to focus on those hopes, dreams and priorities. I've given a lot of thought to my intention words this year and it all boiled down to one word: Simplify.

At Home: I had a perfectly laid out homekeeping plan when we made the decision for me to be a stay-at-home mom. Monday I would do this. Tuesday that. Wednesday something else and so on. That lasted approximately 14.2 minutes before I realized that I hadn't taken the time to factor a child into the equation. I promptly ditched that plan and have been flying by the seat of my pants ever since. I think I've done a fairly good job of keeping up with the housework in the year that I've been a full-time mom and my husband frequently commends me on my efforts. However, it's something I stress about constantly. I actually enjoy cleaning and organizing. Time management is the hard part. Looking at the big picture is overwhelming and I think this is the cause for my homekeeping stress. Simplifying my list by breaking everything down into daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal categories will help me accomplish more and stress less. I feel confident that I can keep the list more realistic and liveable this time around I have a year of stay-at-home-mommyhood under my belt.

In addition, I'd like to simplify our home in the most literal sense. I want to clear the physical clutter. It's going to be an ongoing task that lasts the whole year and possibly even later. I know doing so will be freeing. It will also help make homekeeping easier because the best way to keep up with "stuff" is by having less of it.

As a Wife: Now that we're parents, I think it's easy for my husband and I to put so much energy into parenting that we lose a little bit of ourselves as a couple. I love my daughter with everything I've got in me. I also love my husband with my whole heart and soul.  I want to have more date nights. I want to write him more love notes. I want to find a time when I can really listen to him rather than just hearing him talk and nodding while I'm cleaning the kitchen or wiping a snotty nose. I don't want to lose site of the things that made me fall, and stay, in love with him.

As a Mother: Whoever said "The days are long, but the years are short." in regards to being a mother really knew what they were talking about. My daughter turned one in October of 2010. It seemed like it happened in the blink of an eye. One minute I had made the recliner my permanent home to nurse her on demand and the next she had become her own little, somewhat independent person. I can't slow time, but I can savor it more. I want to spend more time doing nothing with her. I want to stop what I'm doing, sit on the floor and play with her for hours, even if the house isn't spotless and dinner won't be ready on time. I want to take the time to sit still and watch her. Really watch her. She's at the age where she's learning so much and discovering her own likes and dislikes. I want to take the time to do nothing more than to simply watch her be.

In my Faith: I thank God every single day that my husband and I found a church this year. It's a place where we're welcome, where God is obviously very near, where there's a big focus on youth and where we can grow as a couple. We've connected with many people at the church and have made friends quickly. We've found ourself invited to many activities, both church-sanctioned events and more social gatherings. I love all of these things and am excited about what is to come. This year, I want to bring my faith to a deeper personal level. Without giving up any of the amazing opportunities I have to share my faith with others, I also want to take more time by myself to simply do one thing...pray.

At Work:  I love my job with Weight Watchers. I care passionately about the people I'm helping, the people I work with and the mission of the company. I'm extremely blessed that my husband is able to provide 100% of what our family needs financially. I do this job because I want to and not because I have to. I don't want to lose sight of that. The flexible schedule is absolutely perfect for me given that my #1 priority right now is staying home with my little one. I'm currently working the perfect number of hours each week to be able to pursue what I love, but also spend the vast majority of my time with her. More hours are constantly being offered to me. I don't mind picking up some extra hours here and there to help someone out or cover a busy time period, but I don't want to overcommit myself out of a feeling of obligation. I want to keep this aspect of my life as simple and unstressful as possible so that I don't lose sight of why I'm there. I've never woken up, dreading going to work. I want it to stay that way. I'm there to help people. Plain and simple.

What are your intention words for 2011?

Monday, January 3, 2011

First Menu Plan Monday of 2011!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone's 2011 is off to a great start. Mine is. I don't typically get too worked up about the change on the calendar, but this year I'm feeling very refreshed and motivated. I find it pretty ironic considering everyone around me is talking about how anti-climactic 2011 seems to them.

After a hectic holiday season, I'm excited to resume "normal" menu planning. Here's what our first week of 2011 looks like:

Monday: Panko-Crusted Pork Chops with Creamy Herb Dressing , twice-baked potatoes, green beans

Tuesday: Nacho Bar (seasoned ground beef/black bean mixture, baked Scoops, sour cream, salsa, shredded cheese, green onions, jalapeno peppers)

Wednesday: Sweet & Sour Chicken, brown rice

Thursday: Italian Beef Sandwiches, corn & lima beans

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: We're taking our dad's out for a joint birthday dinner at The Montgomery Inn!

Sunday: pizza or cheeseburgers

Can't wait to see what you all have on your menus this week!